ERIE – Pennsylvania’s drive to shed its dependence on foreign oil took a major step forward today with the debut of Lake Erie Biofuels, a plant that will produce 45 million gallons of biofuels every year.
“With the United States borrowing nearly $1 billion a day to finance it’s addiction to foreign oil, our nation’s security and economy has become vulnerable to developments in politically unstable countries that are often controlled by regimes hostile to America’s interests, ” said Department of Environmental Protection Regional Director Kelly Burch. “Pennsylvania alone spends nearly $30 billion a year to purchase gas and liquid fuel from beyond our borders. Governor Rendell wants to keep that money here and invest in our communities, our farmers, and companies like Lake Erie Biofuels that are putting our people to work.
“The opening of this facility also shows that companies are eager to invest and grow in Pennsylvania. With our commitment to renewable energy technologies, more and more investors and developers are looking to Pennsylvania. We’ve become a leading destination for alternative and renewable energy projects, and with Governor Rendell’s Energy Independence Strategy, we’ll see an additional $3.5 billion in new economic growth and 13,000 new jobs.”
Governor Rendell’s PennSecurity Fuels Initiative, which is part of the Energy Independence Strategy he first unveiled in February, requires the commonwealth to produce and consume nearly 1 billion gallons of biofuels once production capacities reach certain levels. The production target equals what the state is expected to import from the Persian Gulf by 2017.
Every gallon of gasoline sold in Pennsylvania will include 10 percent ethanol, once in-state production reaches 200-million-gallons-per-year; and every gallon of diesel fuel will include two percent biodiesel, once production reaches 30-million-gallons-per-year with incremental increases up to 20 percent once annual production reaches 300 million gallons.
The Energy Independence Strategy also targets $850 million in new investments to spur development in Pennsylvania’s alternative and renewable energy industries, and help consumers implement energy conservation and efficiency measures to reduce electricity consumption, and install solar panels on their home or small business.
Once fully implemented, the Governor’s plan will save consumers $10 billion in energy costs over the next 10 years.
Lake Erie Biofuels was awarded $625,000 last December through Pennsylvania’s Alternative Fuels Incentives Grant Program. The grant represents a 5-cents-per-gallon production credit and re-imbursement for up to 12.5 million gallons per year, which the company will receive for produced biodiesel that meets certified quality specifications.
The $54 million Lake Erie Biofuels plant is on part of the former International Paper Company property in Erie and it is expected to employ 40 people once it’s fully operational. The former brownfield site was reclaimed under Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program, which provides environmental cleanup standards for old industrial properties to be reused safely.