HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell today underscored the need to invest in Pennsylvania’s energy future as he announced support for 28 innovative projects that will generate clean and renewable energy, reduce pollution, conserve natural resources, and educate the public on the benefits of renewable energy technologies.
“The rising energy prices we face today are creating challenges for our families and businesses,” said Rendell. “What’s more, our dependence on foreign fuels is threatening our national security and way of life. This is unacceptable.
“Rather than continuing to rely on oil supplies that may come from politically unstable or hostile nations, or electricity derived from dirtier fossil fuels, we’re investing in our future by supporting the development of alternative and renewable energy technologies that will strengthen our economy, create new jobs, and protect our environment. These projects illustrate the interest and commitment that companies, universities and other organizations have expressed in investing in Pennsylvania’s new energy economy and creating opportunities here.”
The 28 projects announced today will benefit from a total state investment of $5.4 million through the state’s Energy Harvest program. The grants will leverage almost $14 million in private investments and create or retain more than 100 jobs.
Rendell launched the Energy Harvest program in 2003 to promote awareness and build markets for cleaner or renewable energy technologies. Innovative projects that are eligible through the program include renewable energy deployment, including biomass; waste coal reclamation for energy; deployment of innovative efficiency technologies; and distributed generation projects.
Including the projects announced today, Energy Harvest has invested almost $26 million and leveraged $66 million in private investments.
The projects receiving support today will generate 18.5 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity; replace 3.1 billion BTUs of natural gas and 225,000 gallons of petroleum-based fuels; reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 29 million pounds; and remove 204,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 56,000 pounds of nitrogen oxide. Sulfur dioxide emissions are a major source of acid rain. Nitrogen oxides combine with volatile organic compounds to form smog.
The governor said that while Pennsylvania is a top destination for alternative and renewable energy projects today, the commonwealth is missing out on thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic development activity because it lacks the resources to compete with other states.
“We’re considered a leader in the rapidly growing advanced energy fields,” said Rendell. “Since 2004, when we passed the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act and made a commitment to using more renewable sources, many firms have expressed an interest in locating or expanding here. We’ve already created nearly 3,000 jobs and attracted $1 billion in investments in projects that are strengthening our economy and diversifying our energy supply.
“And while this is positive news, it’s only a fraction of our potential. Each year, we’re only able to support about 10 percent of the requests we receive. That means we’re missing out on opportunities to other states that are making the investments necessary to attract these projects.”
To help Pennsylvania remain competitive, the governor again urged the General Assembly to pass the $850 million Energy Independence Fund he first proposed in February. The fund will spur the development and deployment of alternative and renewable energy technologies in the commonwealth, help Pennsylvania reduce its dependence on foreign oils, and equip consumers with the tools and information necessary to reduce their energy consumption and improve efficiency.
The plan is expected to attract $3.5 billion in economic growth and create 13,000 jobs.
“We have before us the opportunity to build an innovative ‘new energy economy,’ one that is not characterized by the shrinking industries that have hampered our economic growth in the past,” said Rendell. “An economy powered by renewable energy and domestically produced power means more opportunities for our people, a more secure homeland and a stronger economy. We should jump at this chance.”