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Republicans push energy-bill package for the consumer


(The Center Square) — Gov. Josh Shapiro touts his energy plan to boost renewable sources and institute a Pennsylvania carbon tax — and Republicans warn against embracing such a change.

Instead, they’re proposing a package of energy bills they legislators argue are consumer-focused.

“We have a governor right now that’s touting an energy plan that would be really, really harmful,” Rep. Mike Cabell, R-Dallas, said during a House GOP Policy Committee meeting on Thursday. “Ultimately, the Republican Party is for the consumer — we want to do everything we can to bring those (household) bills down.”

The nine bills Republicans want to push range from renaming the Department of Environmental Protection to Department of Environmental Services; creating an independent energy advocate within the DEP; let energy bills be paid with pre-tax dollars; and create opportunity zones on former power plant sites.

Another bill would ally Pennsylvania with Ohio and West Virginia, the main energy exporters with the PJM electricity grid, “to speak as a more unified voice.”

Republican legislators have focused more on energy bills in recent weeks as the impact of inflation and rising costs have grabbed more political attention. A recent poll showed Pennsylvania residents have prioritized low energy prices above other considerations.

“It needs to be more affordable to live in Pennsylvania and the package of bills introduced today will have a direct cost-savings to Pennsylvania’s energy consumers, making it more affordable for families and small businesses to find a home in Pennsylvania,” Rep. Bryan Cutler, R-Quarryville, said in a press release touting the energy bill package.

The governor has argued his plans would provide lower energy costs, along with cleaner energy and more jobs, for all Pennsylvanians. His PACER proposal would put a tax on pollution, which would then be used for residential rebates.

“No one in Pennsylvania will pay more for electricity because of PACER — and many will pay less,” Shapiro said when announcing his proposal earlier this month.

Republicans, however, have focused more on the tax environment and barriers to developing natural resources at home, such as laying new pipelines.

“The world is a better place when we’re using Pennsylvania energy,” Rep. Josh Kail, R-Beaver, said. “We’re paying more in every way and getting less in every way with the energy policies being pushed today.”