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Rapp’s solar, wind teardown bill passes house

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Kathy Rapp to require solar and wind energy decommissioning plans has been passed by the House of Representatives.

The legislation heads to the state Senate for discussion.

Rapp, R-Warren, introduced the bill in December. Any alternative energy agreement will be required to include a decommissioning plan and proof of financing from a banking institution to pay to remove the solar panels or turbine. The plan would have to be updated regularly with money held in escrow for the eventual decommissioning. The bill was amended before passage. Industry and landowner groups asked for bond requirements to be lessened and for the bonding to be required for 25 years instead of 20 years.

House approval came in a 121-79 vote largely along party lines, though 11 Democrats did cross the political aisle to support the proposal.

“Pennsylvania must always strive for clear and uniform regulatory policy for all industries,” said Rapp. “This statewide decommissioning legislation is extremely necessary to establish a higher standard for addressing long-term concerns generated by the rapid and largely unregulated growth of solar and wind energy installations.”

“I wasn’t around 100 years ago,” Rapp said during an April committee meeting. “You may think I was representative (then) however I guess nobody thought 100 years ago we should up front have a plan for making sure that oil, gas and any other form of energy had a plan 100 years later. So this was the genesis of this bill, making sure we have a plan that will make sure that the next generation 20 or 30 years from now does not have to deal with the disposal of solar panels and wind turbines, which by the way wind turbines are lubricated with oil, about 60 gallons, I think, per turbine.”

House Bill 2104 would specifically assure the proper bonding and reclamation of lands leased to solar and wind energy facilities. Proof of the bond would be held with the county Recorder of Deeds and reported to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). It also aims to protect farmland.

“This legislation also recognizes the need to implement further protections for ‘prime farmland’ and leased lands greater than 10 acres,” Rapp said in April. “During a time when a decommissioned turbine or non-functioning solar panel leaking toxic chemicals can irresponsibly be tossed into the nearest landfill, waterway or some other unidentified location, landowners deserve assurance that their leased property will not be marred by the remnants of so-called alternative energy development 20 years from now.”

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