Pa. bill would put new bonding requirements on renewable energy projects


A new bill in the Pennsylvania Senate would put new bonding requirements on commercial renewable energy projects.

Pennsylvania Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming, introduced Senate Bill 284 at the end of February. It would require developers to post a bond with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to cover costs related to potential hazardous liabilities, site decommissioning and reclamation and proper recycling or disposal of the project parts.

The projects targeted by this legislation include facilities that use waste coal, biomass, solar, wind, geothermal, clean coal and waste energy technologies.

It also requires bonding for facilities that make products to improve energy efficiency or conserve energy, alternative energy research and development facilities and rail transportation systems that deliver alternative fuels or high-efficiency trains. 

The legislation was referred to the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, which Yaw chairs.

The reasoning Yaw lays out in his co-sponsorship memo is that the components that make up solar and wind installations are often made of rare earth metals and hazardous materials “which pose environmental or public health hazard if not handled appropriately.”

Setting reasonable bonding amounts will help make sure these types of facilities are properly decommissioned at the end of their useful life, he said. 

Renewable restrictions

Yaw said in the memo that coal, natural gas and solid waste facilities are also required to post financial guarantees for their activities.

This is not exactly how it works, says David Hess, former Pennsylvania DEP secretary and editor of the PA Environment Digest. 

He writes in the Digest that coal, natural gas and the like are required to post a bond in the case that they produce waste, air and water pollution that the public must clean up. The facility itself is not bonded. Additionally, no other form of power generation has a recycling requirement.

Bonding requirement will make renewable energy generation prohibitively expensive, Hess writes.

“Requiring bonds for solar projects alone would kill $2 billion worth of private solar investment just waiting to happen in Pennsylvania, according to information presented at a hearing by the House Consumer Affairs Committee last year,” Hess wrote in the Digest.

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