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Investments in Clean Energy, Biofuels Boost Energy Independence

Open Markets for Emerging Technologies

New investments in innovative clean energy and biofuels projects announced today by Governor Edward G. Rendell will accelerate Pennsylvania's drive toward energy independence, expand markets for emerging technologies, and ultimately make them more affordable for families and businesses.

The Governor said the state's support for 49 projects will leverage nearly four times as much in private investment, create jobs, clean the environment, and save consumers tens of millions of dollars a year in energy costs.

He added that making these kinds of investments is critical to helping Pennsylvania weather a challenging national economic downturn.

"These are difficult times for businesses to raise the capital needed to develop new products and processes, even for the renewable energy and biofuels industries that had been among the fastest growing globally just a few months ago," said Governor Rendell. "And even though energy prices have subsided recently, we've seen how volatile these markets can be and how high energy prices can hurt an economy.

"We want to be sure Pennsylvania is doing everything it can to encourage energy conservation and efficiency, as well as the increased use of alternatives and renewables. Making this kind of investment today is even more crucial now if we're to continue developing clean energy resources and growing the Keystone State's green energy manufacturing industry. That way, we're positioned to capitalize on increased demand once the economy improves."

The grants announced today, which include $7.2 million through the Energy Harvest program and $6.5 million through the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant program, will support projects in at least 25 counties and will leverage more than $53.1 million in private investments. The projects are also expected to create at least 77 jobs.

Combined, the projects will reduce consumers' energy costs by nearly $46 million each year by saving:

 

  • 25.1 million kilowatt hours of electricity or generating it from clean technologies, which is enough to power more than 2,500 homes in Pennsylvania;

 

  • 250.1 million gallons of diesel or #2 heating oil; and

 

 

  • 37,564 million British thermal units of natural gas.

 

The projects will also improve air quality by eliminating 239 tons of sulfur dioxide and 24,000 tons of nitrogen oxides -- both precursors of smog and ground-level ozone -- and reducing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide emissions by 2.5 million tons.

"Developing homegrown sources of clean energy is essential to providing clean air so our most vulnerable citizens can breathe easier, to reducing the impacts of climate change, and to providing a competitive business environment that attracts entrepreneurs and jobs to our state," said Environmental Protection acting Secretary John Hanger.

AFIG grants help support energy security by investing in companies that produce and market homegrown alternative fuels and biofuels, related infrastructure, as well as assisting consumers that purchase hybrid vehicles. Since Governor Rendell expanded the AFIG program in 2004, it has awarded almost $24.3 million to 78 projects and leveraged $173.3 million in investment commitments by public and private fleet operators, fuel providers and the federal government.

Energy Harvest promotes awareness and builds markets for cleaner or renewable energy technologies. Since Governor Rendell originated the program in 2003, Energy Harvest has invested nearly $33.5 million and leveraged $109.7 million in private investment commitments.

The programs are an integral part of Governor Rendell's strategy to pursue Pennsylvania's energy independence. Last year, the commonwealth built on its commitment to developing advanced energy resources and using energy more efficiently by enacting many parts of the Governor's Energy Independence Strategy, including the $650 million Alternative Energy Investment Fund, a biofuel mandate and incentive program that will help add 1 billion gallons of home grown alternative fuels to the state's transportation supply, one of the most ambitious energy conservation mandates in the country, and a plan to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

These investments will spur as much as $3.5 billion in new, private economic development projects from alternative energy companies and will create at least 10,000 good-paying jobs.

Despite this progress, Governor Rendell cautioned that more must be done to protect families and businesses from potentially devastating price spikes once electricity rate caps are lifted statewide beginning in 2011. He has repeatedly urged the General Assembly to make rate mitigation a priority in the current legislative session.

For more information, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keywords: Energy Harvest and Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program.

The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit www.governor.state.pa.us.

More Stories By Pat Romanski

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