Last week, the Pennsylvania Legislature made some positive moves for sustainability in the Keystone State. Legislation around building codes and solar energy set an optimistic tone for energy efficiency and solar generation.

Building Codes

On October 26th, Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill allowing the City of Philadelphia to adopt the most recent set of building codes available. The new legislation creates an exception specifically for Philadelphia to adopt the 2018 International Code Council (ICC) Codes for commercial construction. Because Pennsylvania never adopted the updated ICC Codes released in 2012 and in 2015, the new building codes will replace the state’s current 2009 Codes.

In a press release  Councilman Bobby Henon talks about the benefits of these updates. “The 2018 ICC Codes will make Philadelphia safer and better protected from man-made and natural disasters,” said the Councilman. “Updating the city’s energy-efficiency standards means improved sustainability.”

To become law in Philadelphia, the 2018 ICC Codes must be adopted via a City Council ordinance. The new Codes are expected to go into effect by the end of 2018.

Solar Renewable Energy Credits

On October 30th, Governor Wolf indicated his approval of a bill requiring Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) to be purchased from in-state solar projects.

SRECs are purchased by electric utilities to fulfill requirements to acquire a portion of the energy they sell from renewable energy sources, as part of the Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS).

Solar energy generators earn a credit for every megawatt of energy they produce but the value of the credit depends on the market. In 2010, a credit was valued at $300 but because of an oversupply of out of state credits, the value in Pennsylvania has decreased to only $4.

The new mandate, a small part of a bill known as the Administrative Code, will likely raise the value of these credits leading to re-investment in the market and new jobs associated with solar generation.

The bill is awaiting Governor Wolf’s signature.