Solar Energy Initiative Earns Governor’s Envinronmental Excellence Award

MEDIA – Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty today honored the Borough of Media, Delaware County, with a Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for its extensive use of solar power. She noted that Gov. Edward G. Rendell’s Energy Independence Strategy will make this technology more accessible to households and businesses across the state.

“Media Borough understands energy independence,” said McGinty. “The borough’s Solar Energy for Media initiative provides five public buildings with a new source of clean, safe energy, while providing its residents with a sense of civic pride. This is a community that knows being smart about the environment is smart for the bottom line, too. Media is becoming Pennsylvania’s solar energy capital.

“Governor Rendell recognizes the value of solar energy and he has made it a big part of his Energy Independence Strategy,” McGinty said. “With new investments in solar manufacturing and development, and incentives for homes and businesses, we’ll work to increase supply and create new markets for this technology. Solar power is a practical solution to meeting some of our energy needs, and Media has done a fantastic job demonstrating its viability.”

Through the borough’s Solar Energy for Media initiative, 5-kilowatt solar panels have been installed on five public buildings in the past few years. Panels were installed on the Media armory in 2004 during the building’s renovation; on the Media elementary school and Upper Providence Library in the fall of 2005; and on the Media Theatre and Media fire house in the fall of 2006. Combined, the systems produce 25 kilowatts for the borough.

By the fall of 2008, Solar Energy for Media plans to install photovoltaic systems on three additional public buildings: the borough hall, the Media Youth Center and the Delaware County court house.

“This community is creating a micro grid that will eventually include battery backup for emergency power. The borough’s efforts are important steps to improving air quality, reducing operating costs, preserving natural resources and moving toward energy independence,” McGinty said.

The Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence honors Pennsylvania businesses and organizations that pursue projects to tackle environmental problems, help build new businesses, enhance the bottom line, and engage residents in a renewed commitment to investing in communities.

DEP received 45 applications for the 2007 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. The applications were evaluated on overall environmental benefit, public service, economic impact, use of innovative technology, teamwork and environmental education and outreach.

The Borough of Media was one of 12 winners announced in April.

“From innovations in clean energy to household hazardous waste awareness, this year’s winners are making invaluable contributions that will protect public health and safety, stimulate economic growth, and improve Pennsylvania’s environment,” McGinty said.

Winners of the 2007 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence receive a commemorative plaque and an outdoor flag to acknowledge their commitment to environmental quality. Each recipient will be presented with these exclusive awards during events at the winner’s location.

A key component to the Governor’s proposed Energy Independence Strategy — the Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar initiative — will help homeowners and small businesses install solar panels by offering rebates that cover up to 50 percent of the cost. The plan also calls for new investments in clean energy projects, such as for the development and manufacturing of solar energy technology.

Rendell continues to encourage the General Assembly to adopt the Energy Independence Strategy because rising energy costs pose a financial challenge to families and businesses.

McGinty said the plan is an important investment in the state’s economic future.

“The Governor’s Energy Independence Strategy will save consumers $10 billion in energy costs over the next decade, reduce Pennsylvania’s reliance on foreign fuels, and increase the state’s clean energy production capacity,” McGinty said. “Putting this strategy to work will allow us to make new investments in alternative energy projects and advanced energy conservation technology, and help our companies compete by controlling rising energy costs.”

The strategy would accelerate the production of clean energy components and systems by making more than $100 million available in the form of venture capital, loans and grants so Pennsylvania firms can attract private sector investors and grow.

New state resources would direct up to $500 million for infrastructure improvements, construction, early project development costs and equipment purchases to attract private investment in energy-related economic development projects — including solar manufacturing; advanced coal technologies; biofuels; and energy conservation, efficiency, and energy demand management projects.

Funding for the Energy Independence Strategy will be generated by a minimal charge on electric power consumption. Similar charges are in place in 15 states and the District of Columbia. The charge is proposed at $0.0005 per kWh of electricity used.

To view a detailed summary of the 12 winning Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence projects, and for more information on the Energy Independence Strategy, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us.

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