Pennsylvania Governor Announces Energy Strategy to Save Consumers Billions and Reduce Use of Foreign Fuels
In a February 1 press release, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell revealed his Energy Independence Strategy to help consumers cut energy costs, reduce the state’s reliance on foreign fuels, and expand the state’s alternative fuel and conservation business sectors.
"This plan will cut Pennsylvanians’ energy bills by $10 billion over the next 10 years," Rendell said. "It will give us the ability to produce enough homegrown fuel to replace every gallon Pennsylvania currently imports from the Persian Gulf."
Among other things, the strategy includes creation of an $850 million Energy Independence Fund that will provide venture capital, loans, and grants to clean energy firms to attract private sector investors, initiate clean energy economic development projects, and keep energy jobs close to home. The fund would be created by a systems benefits charge of $0.0005 per kWh on electric power consumers. This charge is expected to cost the average residential customer $0.45 per month, the average commercial customer about $3.00 per month and the average industrial customer $74 per month. For large industrial customers, the fee would be capped at $10,000 per year. However, the Energy Independence Strategy overall is expected to save the average residential customer $73 per year, the average commercial customer $425 per year, and the average industrial customer $10,500 per year.
The plan also includes new fuel standards that require the state to grow enough biomass to be processed into 1 billion gallons of clean fuel, which the state must use. Every gallon of gasoline sold in Pennsylvania would include 10 percent ethanol, and every gallon of diesel would include an increasing amount (up to 20 percent) of soy or other renewable oil.
"Every year, Pennsylvanians send some $30 billion out of our state just to buy gas and liquid fuels," he said."We need to keep those dollars at home and put our own people to work building our state’s energy independent future."
The plan also calls for utilities to promote installation of smart meters in homes; rebates for customers turning in old, inefficient air conditioners and refrigerators when they buy newer more efficient models; and creation of a “Pennsylvania Sunshine” program to help residents pay up to 50 percent of the cost of installing solar panels. Power generators and distributors will be required to invest in conservation before building new generation or buying power at peak rates.
See an expanded description of the governor’s strategy in the February 1 Daily Update on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Web site.