Boosting Renewable Energy Use, Addressing Climate Change Important for Secure Economic Future
HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With much of the U.S. still feeling the lingering effects of the recession, Governor Edward G. Rendell said today that Pennsylvania and the entire nation can chart a path to a stronger economy if it commits to a green, sustainable future.
Speaking at Aqua America's 1.1-megawatt Ingram's Mill Solar Farm—one of the newest and largest such facilities on the East Coast—the Governor said addressing climate change, using more renewable energy resources, and cutting back on energy consumption are the keys to restoring America's competitive edge globally while preserving the environment and creating millions of new jobs.
"Too many people think that protecting the environment and improving economic competitiveness is an 'either-or' proposition. This is absolutely false," said Governor Rendell. "As we emerge from the recession, we need to intensify our efforts to create good jobs and grow the economy, but we do not need to sacrifice the environment in the process. In fact, by investing in the green economy, we can increase employment while at the same time reducing energy consumption, saving money, and preserving the natural wonders with which we were blessed.
"Energy independence means creating jobs at home that can't be outsourced. It means keeping the money we spend on gasoline here at home instead of putting it in the hands of oil cartels from foreign nations that are hostile to us, which in turn makes it about national security, too; and it means protecting our environment from pollutants that are warming our planet and threatening life as we know it."
According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, Pennsylvania is already a national leader with the third highest number of clean energy jobs of any state other than California and Texas, but the Governor explained that Pennsylvania is doing more to increase that number.
In December, the commonwealth finalized its Climate Change Action Plan that contained 52 recommendations forming a blue print to help Pennsylvania businesses and households reduce energy consumption and cut expenses.
Coupled with the other actions Pennsylvania has already undertaken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the recommendations are expected to net 65,000 new, full-time jobs and add more $6 billion to the state's economy by 2020.
The Governor said that Pennsylvania's track record of developing renewable energy technologies and putting them to work shows how effective this strategy could be. Between 2003 and 2008, the state invested more than $900 million in advanced energy technologies through approximately 560 projects that are responsible for 8,300 jobs all across Pennsylvania.
The state has been recognized as one of the fastest growing states for wind energy production and will be among the top five in solar production by the end of 2010.
The Ingram's Mill Solar Farm exemplifies the opportunities that renewable energy technologies can create, according to Governor Rendell. During construction, the facility created 36 full-time construction jobs and will require workers to maintain it once it is fully operational. At that time, the solar farm will reduce Aqua's dependence on the electrical grid by 1.3 million kilowatt hours annually, which will save the company $77,000 per year.
The state invested $1 million in the approximately $5 million project, but with new investments now possible through the state's $650 million Alternative Energy Investment Fund and tens of millions more through President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Pennsylvania is poised to attract billions of dollars more in clean energy economic development projects.
But, the Governor said, the state will be at a competitive disadvantage for doing so if cannot maintain an attractive and competitive environment.
"We're committed to investing in renewable energy and supporting smart energy conservation and climate change mitigation measures because that's the key to our future," Governor Rendell said. "But if we want to attract companies to Pennsylvania that do this work and create jobs for our people, we have to foster an environment where they can succeed. That's why we must increase our alternative energy portfolio standards.
"When other states enacted higher requirements for renewable energy than we established in 2004, they made themselves more attractive for alternative energy companies looking to expand. That put our competitiveness at risk. We need to preserve Pennsylvania's position as a leader in alternative energy and protect our investments and the thousand of associated jobs by raising our requirements for renewable energy."
For more information on the Climate Change Action Plan and Pennsylvania's work to encourage renewable energy development and energy conservation, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us.
Media contact: Gary Tuma; 717-783-1116
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor