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$650 Million Renewable Energy Program, BioFuels Mandate, Incentives OK'd
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The General Assembly this week gave final approval to a $650 Renewable Energy Investment Program designed to encourage wind, solar and other alternative energy sources. Also given final approved were a biofuels mandate and a production incentive program.

"This is a responsible plan that provides immediate assistance to consumers to reduce energy use, as well as a long-term approach for developing and implementing alternative energy across Pennsylvania. And it does not impose any new taxes on the consumers we are ultimately trying to help," said Sen. Mary Jo White (R-Venango), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

"Pennsylvania will now have a framework in place to expand and diversify our energy supply, and encourage steps that can reduce demand and increase efficiency, both in our homes and businesses," said Sen. White. "It's an historic step that will boost the use of alternative and renewable energy throughout the Commonwealth."

“The only way to secure our energy future is to take steps now that allow Pennsylvania to be more energy efficient and conserve our natural resources,” Gov. Rendell said. “We cannot reduce our dependence on foreign oil unless we make better use of clean, renewable energy and invest in our own home-grown fuel resources as proposed in the PennSecurity Fuels Initiative.

“The legislation that has been passed as part of this year’s budget is a first step in addressing those issues. We’re making an unprecedented investment to spur development of advanced energy resources that will offer new options to consumers at a time when gasoline, diesel fuel, electricity and natural gas prices are going through the roof.”

The energy initiatives were included in three separate bills.

The Renewable Energy Investment Program was included in Special Session House Bill 1 (DePasquale-D-York) that would provide the Commonwealth Financing Authority with $500 million in bond funding and $150 million in General Fund revenues for a variety of renewable energy programs, including—

· $165 million for alternative energy grants/loans;

· $100 million for Consumer Solar Energy Projects administered by DEP;

· $92.5 million for Consumer Energy Conservation Projects;

· $80 million for solar energy production;

· $50 million for Alternative Energy Production Tax Credits;

· $40 million to Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority to support early stage development of alternative energy and energy efficiency technologies;

· $40 million for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance;

· $25 million for small scale renewable energy projects, geothermal, wind or manufacturing projects;

· $25 million for high performance, energy efficient buildings for individuals and small businesses;

· $25 million for coal-fired power plant pollution control technology administered by DEP

· $5 million for Home Energy Efficiency Loan Program; and

· $2.5 million for Data Center Consolidation Projects.

A more detailed summary is available online.

Also given final approval was House Bill 1202 (Gerber-D-Montgomery), the Biofuel Development and In-State Production Incentive Act establishing a per gallon content requirement for biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol based on in-state production.

The departments of Agriculture and Transportation are to certify whether there is sufficient transportation, distribution and other infrastructure to implement the mandates at least six months prior to the effective date of each level of the mandate. If there is insufficient infrastructure, the mandate can be delayed at least six months.

The legislation also directs the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a study of the air quality impact of the biofuel mandates on Pennsylvania meeting ozone and other federal air pollution standards.

The Department of Agriculture, in consultation with DEP, may suspend or modify the mandate by several factors, including but not limited to substantially increased costs to consumers or insufficient quantity or distribution of biodiesel or cellulosic ethanol.

A more detailed summary of the bill is available online.

Special Session Senate Bill 22 (Tomlinson-R-Bucks), providing for biodiesel production incentives of 75 cents per gallon for three years ($5.3 million annually) and creating a nitrogen tire inflation system, was also passed by the Senate and House.

For more information, visit the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee website.

NewsClips: Budget Passes; Education, Energy Get More

Environment, Energy Programs Part of State Budget


7/4/2008

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