Governor Shapiro’s Science Fiction Adventure

By Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association

Watch Carl A. Marrara, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, discuss this on Behind the Headlines.

Last month, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro announced a plan to end the state’s competitive electricity market by mandating half of all Pennsylvania’s electricity be generated by sources of his choosing, several of which do not exist.

Pennsylvania generates 6% of America’s electricity and is the nation’s top exporter. Annual Pennsylvania electricity production is 223,400,000.000,000 watt hours (223.4 TWh).

“If Governor Shapiro is going to overthrow Pennsylvania’s competitive market for electricity, he should at least tell us where the power will come from and how much each source will generate,” said PMA President & CEO David N. Taylor.

By the year 2035, the Shapiro “PRESS” plan would mandate 35% of all electricity come from Tier I sources, 10% from Tier II sources, and 5% from Tier III sources under a revised Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS).

Boasting of the new sources included in the revised AEPS, Governor Shapiro said: “So not only will it be wind and solar anymore, it’s also going to be methane digesters, new fusion technology, [and] small modular nuclear reactors.”

Unfortunately, two of Shapiro’s Tier I energy sources — small modular nuclear reactors and fusion reactors — are years if not decades from coming online, if they ever become viable at all. The likelihood of those sources contributing to Pennsylvania’s energy production by 2035 is near zero.

A recent analysis by Broad + Liberty’s Todd Shepherd shows that when it comes to small modular nuclear reactors some “real-world difficulties can be found in western states.”

Shepherd pointed to a report from

“Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), a coalition of community-owned power systems in seven western states, withdrew from a deal to build the plant, designed by NuScale Power, because too few members agreed to buy into it. The project, subsidized by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), sought to revive the moribund U.S. nuclear industry, but its cost had more than doubled to $9.3 billion.”

The report went on to say that “to some observers, the plan’s collapse also raises questions about the feasibility of other planned advanced reactors, meant to provide clean energy with fewer drawbacks than existing reactors.”

What’s more, scientists have worked for decades on capturing energy from a fusion reaction but have had scant success.

Here, Broad + Liberty cites on article from

“But it turns out that fusion power is … hard. Really hard. Really complicated, Full of unexpected pitfalls and traps. We’ve been trying to build fusion generators for three-quarters of a century, and we’ve made a lot of progress — enormous, groundbreaking, horizon-expanding progress. But we’re not there yet. Fusion power has been one of those things that’s been ‘only 20 years away’ for about 50 years now.”

PMA’s Taylor said that Governor Shapiro should be able to explain in detail how his plan would work if he expects lawmakers to consider it.

“We need to know how many small modular nuclear reactors will be online in the commonwealth by 2035, where they will be located, and how much electricity they will generate,” he said. “When will fusion energy be viable? How much electricity will fusion reactors contribute to Tier I by 2035? If Governor Shapiro intends to mandate the usage of these sources, he should be able to answer these questions.”

The other part of Governor Shapiro’s energy plan, “PACER,” would create a Pennsylvania version of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cartel of Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states that imposes an extra carbon tax on electricity generators in those states. Shapiro’s predecessor tried to force RGGI on Pennsylvania consumers via executive order and without legislative approval. Last November, Commonwealth Court ruled RGGI to be unconstitutional because it would impose a tax not approved by the General Assembly. The Shapiro Administration has appealed the ruling.

In the meantime, Pennsylvania continues to do a stellar job of reducing its carbon emissions without the government control typified by the Shapiro plan. Recent Independent Fiscal Office data shows that over the past decade Pennsylvania has reduced its carbon emissions while increasing energy production. This economic growth has resulted in more than 424,000 direct and down-the-line jobs.

As National Review recently pointed out, “driving this mutually beneficial trend of reduced carbon and increased economic growth is the transition to natural gas.” Carbon Brief, a website funded by the European Climate Foundation, called the shift from coal to natural gas “the largest driver” for reduced greenhouse emissions. Between 2001 and 2022, U.S. gas generation “more than doubled” while emissions plunged 38 percent, according to the International Energy Agency.”

The International Energy Agency cited that, “Since 2010, coal-to-gas switching has saved around 500 million tons of CO2 – an effect equivalent to putting an extra 200 million EVs running on zero-carbon electricity on the road over the same period.”

Pennsylvania is leading on reducing carbon emissions while also contributing to America’s energy leadership. Governor Shapiro would be wise to stop chasing science fiction and let consumer choice and competition continue to succeed.

Nothing contained here should be considered as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any legislation.

The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Susquehanna Valley Center.