HB 221, PN 188 (Rader) – The bill would allow a local government unit that imposes a dedicated real estate tax or earned income tax for preserving and maintaining land for open space under Act 442 of 1967 to use a portion of the tax revenue for maintenance of open space land that was not acquired under the provisions of Act 442 of 1967. A vote of 46-2 was recorded on the bill.

SB 284, PN 904 (Yaw) – The legislation would charge the Environmental Quality Board with promulgating regulations which establish bonding requirements for project developers who seek to install or operate commercial wind or solar electric generation and other renewable energy facilities in PA.

Amendment A03939 (Yaw) – The amendment removes the bill provisions to provide for solar energy facility decommissioning.

The amendment requires the facility owner and the landowner to enter into a solar energy facility agreement. The agreement must include that it is the responsibility of the facility owner to decommission a facility no later than 18 months after it has stopped producing electricity. If the facility owner fails to decommission, the financial assurance is payable to the landowner.

A decommission plan and proof of financial assurance must be filed with the County Recorder of Deeds by the facility owner prior to the start of construction. The decommission plan and financial assurance must be updated and refiled every 5 years. Notice of filing must be sent to landowner.

The decommission plan includes areas of property restoration that will be the responsibility of the facility owner, along with a statement of intent to comply with all prevention of forced labor laws.

Financial assurance can be in the form of an:

  • Escrow account
  • CD or automatically renewable irrevocable letter of credit
  • Bond though a corporate suety doing business in PA
  • Negotiable bond of the Federal Government, Commonwealth or municipality in PA

The financial assurance amount is determined prior to the start of construction in an amount equal to 10% of the estimated decommissioning cost and increases the 10th year after the start of construction with consideration for salvage cost. An increase occurs every 5 years thereafter. A third-party engineer determines the estimated cost and salvage value.

The amendment requires compliance to all prevention of forced labor laws that restricts the import or use of goods, wares, articles or merchandise mined, produced or manufactured wholly or in part with forced labor. Exceptions includes facilities with nameplate capacity of 2 Megawatts AC or less, customer-generators under the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act or normal agricultural operation premises, regardless of location or consumption.

The amendment requires temporary regulation to be issued to provide quick implementation, followed by final form regulations.to be promulgated for development of a form for a standard decommissioning plan and financial assurance proof. The solar energy industry is to assist the department with developing the regulations. Local ordinances that are inconsistent are preempted.

The amendment passed by a vote of 47-1.

Amendment A03899 (Muth) – The amendment applies the bonding requirements of the bill for renewable energy projects to conventional and unconventional wells.

The amendment increases the bonding amount currently required for plugging a well and establishes the increased amount as a minimum base amount.

The amendment adds a requirement for the Environmental Quality Board to update the minimum bonding amount for plugging a well any year that the CPI-U increases. The update to the minimum amount shall be a percentage increase equal to the CPI-U percentage increase.

The amendment failed by a vote of 19-29, and the bill was re-referred to Appropriations.

SB 597, PN 801 (Stefano) – The bill amends Title 66 (Public Utilities) by adding a new chapter which provides for water quality accountability standards in the Commonwealth.

Amendment A03946 (Stefano) – This amendment moves the bill from the PUC in Title 66 to DEP in Title 27. The asset management plans would be subject to review and enforcement of DEP, and not the PUC. It authorizes DEP to issue orders, enter into a consent order, assess civil penalties or take other actions to enforce compliance with the bill.

The amendment also makes the following changes to the underlying language:

  • Moves the due date for asset management plans from 18 months from passage of the bill to 2 years.
  • Requires the community water systems’ lead service line removal and replacement plans to be made in accordance with the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule, DEP and PUC, as appropriate.
  • Removes the requirement that community wastewater systems’ plans include a cross-connection control and backflow prevention plan.
  • Removes the existing section on the water meters’ allowable error rate, which dictates whether they can remain in service, and replaces it with language allowing the water provider to set the allowable error rate and develop testing protocol as part of the plan.
  • Requires water and wastewater system operators with cyber infrastructure to develop a cybersecurity program, rather than all water and wastewater system operators.
  • Removes the language on PUC enforcement, PUC temporary regulations, and PUC costs. Program costs will be submitted in DEP’s annual budget and assessed upon a community water or wastewater operator or owner.

The amendment passed by a vote of 38-10.

Amendment A03975 (Stefano) – This Amendment removes the language authorizing the PUC to promulgate temporary regulations and, instead, authorizes it to promulgate final regulations through the normal regulatory process.

The amendment passed by a vote of 34-14, and the bill went over in its order as amended.

SB 1179, PN 1530 (Baker) – The legislation amends 23 Pa.C.S. §6704 by creating two additional categories of crime victims eligible to participate in the Address Confidentiality Program.  Specifically, the bill adds victims of child abduction and victims of human trafficking to the list of individuals eligible for the program

Amendment A03982 (Baker) – The amendment makes several changes related to the eligibility of individuals to apply for the domestic and sexual violence victim address confidentiality program under 23 Pa.C.S. Chapter 67.

Specifically, the amendment does the following:

  • Deletes the definition of “victim of child abduction” and replaces it with a new definition of “victim of kidnapping”.
  • Defines “victim of kidnapping” as a victim of an offense under 18 Pa.C.S. §2901 (relating to kidnapping).
  • Adds victims of offenses under 18 Pa.C.S. §3133 (relating to sexual extortion) to the definition of a “victim of sexual assault”.
  • Removes the reference to “victims of child abduction” in Section 2 of the bill (relating to person eligible to apply for the address confidentiality program) and replaces it with a reference to “victims of kidnapping”.
  • Removes the reference to “victims of child abduction” in Section 4 of the bill (relating to the regulatory authority of the Office of the Victim Advocate) and replaces it with a reference to “victims of kidnapping”.

The amendment passed by a voice vote and the bill went over in its order as amended.