Pennsylvania clean energy efforts get global attention

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: energy management
For the fourth time in less than a year, Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell's clean energy efforts are drawing international attention.

"Our commonwealth offers a vivid illustration of the tremendous economic and environmental benefits that can be realized when we refocus our priorities on clean, advanced, indigenous energy resources," Governor Rendell said. "Pennsylvania is taking the lead as an innovator in helping to build and deploy a diverse array of alternative energy projects."

The governor's energy initiatives were featured across Europe last week during the WindEnergy 2006 conference in Hamburg, Germany. Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty represented Rendell at the international trade show for wind energy manufacturers, developers and financiers.

Pennsylvania was the only state in the United States afforded a keynote speaking opportunity at the plenary session. All other speakers were European.

"We are making clean energy history in Pennsylvania, and the international community is taking notice," McGinty said. "This international podium gave us an important opportunity to attract still more foreign investment and energy job creation to Pennsylvania. We now have a growing array of manufacturers and investors looking to set up business in our state."

Thousands of companies, individuals, investors and energy associations participated in the event, which featured exhibitors from 26 countries, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Spain and Sweden, among just a few. The trade fair examined the international wind energy market, including project financing, grid expansion and market development.

Total installed wind power worldwide is about 60,000 megawatts. That amount is expected to grow to 210,000 megawatts in 2014 as key future markets in Germany, France, Spain and the United States come online.

Pennsylvania is a key American market. There are more than 5,000 megawatts of untapped wind power in the state, with the potential to generate 45 billion kilowatt-hours annually, or enough to power more than 5 million homes.

The commonwealth also is central to growing solar and biofuel sectors. Pennsylvania's clean energy law mandates some 700 megawatts of electricity from solar photovoltaics by 2020, the second-largest solar requirement in the country. Within the year, the state also could be the nation's leading producer of biodiesel with a projected 40 million gallons of annual production.

The growth potential of these sources, combined with Rendell's strategic investments in cutting-edge projects, has put Pennsylvania at the forefront of alternative energy development. It also has opened the door for potential European investments in the state.

The Financial Times Deutschland, one of Germany's premier business dailies, recently published a piece detailing the policies and incentives that Rendell has put in place to give alternative energy investors the assurances they need to do business in Pennsylvania.

That story was derived from an earlier visit to Hamburg by Rendell administration officials who outlined the governor's energy policies at a conference, "Successful in the USA: A Seminar for German Companies," and a subsequent visit by German journalists who took a five-day tour of advanced energy projects in Pennsylvania.

The professional trade magazine Neue Energie (New Energy), which focuses on international markets for renewable energy, also published an article highlighting Pennsylvania's pioneering role in clean energy policy and detailing incentives that make energy investment profitable and promising in the commonwealth.

Other German media covering the Pennsylvania energy story include: Impulse, a leading German business magazine for entrepreneurs and small- and medium-sized companies; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany's leading daily newspapers; and Wirtschaftwoche, a magazine that focuses on economic policy and markets.

The May 2006 issue of North American Windpower also features a cover story about the commonwealth's energy policies: "Pennsylvania Woos Wind With 'Alternative' Policy."

"We welcome the opportunity to tell Pennsylvania's story and showcase our strong leadership in alternative energy, and we look forward to working with business and government partners to secure even more investments in indigenous energy resources to keep our nation growing stronger," McGinty said.

The governor's energy efforts have been receiving widespread recognition both at home and abroad.

Aside from the two expos in Germany, Rendell's clean energy agenda was showcased at the United Nations in New York City in April. The conference featured world economic and environmental leaders, national and international film, arts and fashion representatives, and human rights activists who are working on new business strategies and technologies - including those in the renewable energy development arena - to improve environments and economies worldwide.

Rendell's clean energy initiatives also were highlighted in September as part of former President Bill Clinton's inaugural meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, a three-day event concentrating a diverse and select group of current and former heads of state, business leaders, academicians and key nongovernmental organization representatives from around the world to improve the environment and economy through clean energy.

Nationally, McGinty represented Rendell at a meeting in March with members of the U.S. Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee seeking solutions to decrease the nation's dangerous dependence on foreign oil. Participants at invitation-only meeting included more than two dozen policy experts and representatives of various high-tech industries, energy trade associations, consumer groups and environmental organizations.

As a result of that meeting, several U.S. Senate members adopted Rendell's "Energy Deployment for a Growing Economy" (EDGE) initiative, which provides regulatory and financial incentives to shut down older, dirtier, inefficient power plants and repower with advanced coal gasification technology. U.S. Senate Democrats' recently unveiled Clean EDGE Act of 2006 is a broad framework to encourage domestic energy development to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil by 40 percent.

He also made a national impact in December when he outlined Pennsylvania's clean energy plan during a speech before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where he called for a massive national commitment to alternative energy. His "American Energy Harvest" initiative harnesses the power of renewable energy and strengthens economies by reducing dependence on foreign energy imports.

Another testament to the leadership Rendell has shown with regard to clean energy development is the upcoming worldwide 2006 WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, which is being held June 4-7 in Pittsburgh. Sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy, this premier conference brings together more than 4,500 energy professionals and 250 exhibiting national and international companies.

The Rendell administration is partnering with the American Wind Energy Association to provide 50 scholarships to give local leaders a unique opportunity to learn the fundamentals of wind energy production and economics.

Wind energy is a key part of Rendell's strategy to build a diversified energy base that ensures greater security for Pennsylvania, creates jobs and improves the environment.

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 clean energy builds substantially on the state's leadership in wind production east of the Mississippi, where the commonwealth provides enough clean energy to power some 70,000 homes.

Because of that leadership, Governor 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 commonwealth is leading in other areas of advanced energy development, creating jobs and cleaning up the environment while putting indigenous resources to work.

Over the next decade, Pennsylvania will replace 900 million gallons of transportation fuel with locally produced alternative resources such as ethanol and biodiesel, or with fuels derived from coal liquefaction. The 900 million gallons represents the forecasted amount of fuels that will be imported from the Persian Gulf to Pennsylvania 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 already is home to the East Coast's first state-of-the-art biofuels injection facility, which opened last fall with $219,908 in state aid. The plant will replace 3.2 million gallons of foreign oil with domestically produced biodiesel and keep at home $6 million worth of energy dollars by reducing the state's need to purchase imported fuels.

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 $15 million in grants and loans for 41 clean energy projects that will leverage $200 million in private investment. The projects will create 1,558 permanent and construction jobs.

The Pennsylvania Energy Harvest Grant Program has awarded $15.9 million and leveraged another $43.7 million in private funds since its inception in May 2003 for projects using sources such as wind, solar, biomass, waste coal and recycled energy.

For more information, visit DEP's Web site at, Keyword: "Energy."

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