HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell announced that Pennsylvania has received a 2006 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy for being the largest state purchaser of green electricity in the nation.
In August, Rendell redoubled Pennsylvania’s green electricity purchase to 20 percent from 10 percent, harnessing state resources to further develop markets for sustainable energy sources that will create jobs, enhance homeland security and provide significant environmental improvements in the commonwealth.
“Increasing investments in green power broadens the market for clean energy providers, fosters the development and deployment of advanced energy technologies, and helps to reduce energy costs for the commonwealth, saving taxpayers money and making our state a leader in driving the market for clean, renewable resources,” Rendell said.
Through modifying its existing contract with Community Energy Inc., the commonwealth is purchasing renewable energy credits equal to 200,000 megawatt hours a year, or 20 percent of state government’s electricity, from renewable sources such as wind and hydroelectric energy.
In 2000, Pennsylvania was the first state to make a voluntary purchase of green electricity, contracting for 5 percent of its electricity load. Shortly after taking office, Governor Rendell doubled the purchase to 10 percent.
“Pennsylvania’s clean energy efforts are producing real results — our economy is growing, residents are working more and the environment is improving,” Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said. “With long-term investments from leading global firms and the continued national recognition of our efforts, our commonwealth remains at the forefront of building and deploying alternative energy solutions. That means more jobs, more development, and, in today’s rapidly expanding energy market, even more opportunities.”
The Green Power Purchaser Award was presented to Pennsylvania at an awards event yesterday, in conjunction with the 11th National Renewable Energy Marketing Conference taking place in San Francisco. The annual awards recognize leading national green power purchasers and suppliers for their commitment and contributions to helping advance the development of the nation’s green power market.
“EPA is pleased to recognize Pennsylvania with a Green Power Purchaser Award for its distinguished commitment to buy green power and reduce the environmental impacts associated with its electricity use,” said Bill Wehrum, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for Air and Radiation. “This commitment demonstrates that an organization can make a real environmental difference by purchasing green power.”
Green power is a subset of renewable energy, and includes such resources as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydro. Unlike other renewable energy resources, green power resources provide a higher level of environmental benefit, such as lower carbon dioxide emissions, a greenhouse gas linked to global climate change. Green power purchases help to accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide.
EPA and DOE presented awards for green power purchasing to 22 organizations that have demonstrated leadership by voluntarily purchasing green power or creating innovative supply options for consumers.
This year a panel of judges reviewed nearly 100 nominations based on criteria ranging from the amount of green power purchased or generated to each organization’s strategy for incorporating green power into its operations and communications.
Rendell has pursued a broad array of policies and financial tools to promote advanced energy projects in the commonwealth.
Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, one of the most progressive in the nation, ensures that 18 percent of all retail energy generated by 2020 comes from clean, efficient and advanced resources. The law promises to build substantially on the state’s leadership in wind production east of the Mississippi, with wind sources providing enough clean energy to power some 70,000 homes.
Because of that leadership, Rendell was able to lead a campaign to land the Spanish wind-energy company Gamesa Corp., the second largest wind energy company in the world, beating out many other vying states. With its U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia and manufacturing facilities in Bucks and Cambria counties, Gamesa represents an $84 million investment in the state that will create as many as 1,000 jobs over five years.
The state’s clean energy law far surpasses other states in ensuring wide distribution and use of zero-pollution solar power. By 2021, when the solar share is in full effect, utilities will be required to purchase 700 megawatts of solar-produced electricity—the second largest solar requirement in the nation.
In November, Rendell announced that Germany-based Conergy AG – the world’s largest solar power integration company – has agreed to locate the North American headquarters of its financial subsidiary, voltwerk, and the East Coast operations of its solar engineering and installation subsidiary, SunTechnics, in Pennsylvania. The move will create up to 50 engineering, financing and management jobs and up to $100 million in clean energy deals over the next three years.
The commonwealth is leading in other areas of advanced energy development, creating jobs and cleaning up the environment while putting indigenous resources to work. Pennsylvania is second only to California in the number of buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building Council under the internationally recognized Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
Rendell’s “PennSecurity Fuels Initiative” will produce and use 900-million gallons annually of clean, domestic fuel – an amount equivalent to what the state is expected to import from the Persian Gulf 10 years from now. The Governor is investing $30 million over the next five years to build re-fueling and production infrastructure to support wide distribution of the alternative fuels.
Pennsylvania very well could be the nation’s leading producer of biodiesel within the year, going from practically nowhere a year ago to a projected 40-million gallons of annual production. The state also contains enough plant matter to produce in excess of 500 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.
In 2004, Rendell signed into law an act that expanded the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant program to include an incentive to buy down the incremental cost of purchasing biofuels for local governments and nonprofit entities, and a reimbursement of up to 5 cents per gallon for Pennsylvania producers of biodiesel and ethanol produced for use as transportation fuel.
AFIG also offers user-friendly rebates instead of grants to residents who purchase hybrid electric vehicles. This year, Rendell doubled the hybrid vehicle rebate program to $3 million. Since its inception in 1992, AFIG has awarded $28.7 million for 984 projects in 50 counties, leveraging more than $78 million from public and private fleet operators, fuel providers and the federal government. More AFIG investments are expected to be announced later this week.
The nation’s first coal gasification-liquefaction plant is being built in northeastern Pennsylvania. The facility will use waste coal to produce 40-million gallons of clean-burning diesel fuel each year. What the Governor is doing to support the project is unprecedented, creating a fuel consortium with private industry to purchase nearly all of the offtake. Pennsylvania will lock in its supply for some 10 years at prices well below current market values and ensure a long-term, viable market for the plant.
Pennsylvanians now spend some $30 billion per year on imported energy fuels. Instead of spending overseas, Rendell is investing at home and putting Pennsylvanians to work. Brought back to life after years of inactivity, the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority has awarded $21 million in grants and loans for 57 clean energy projects that will leverage $240 million in private investment. The projects will create 975 permanent and construction jobs.
The Pennsylvania Energy Harvest Grant Program has awarded $21 million and leveraged another $51.9 million in private funds since its inception in May 2003 for projects using sources such as wind, solar, biomass, waste coal and recycled energy.