Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell has announced $20.5 million in state and federal investments that will create 1,400 jobs in the rapidly expanding clean energy industry.
The funding will benefit 40 diverse energy projects that will generate or save the equivalent of more than 10 billion kilowatt hours of electricity over their lifetimes. That’s enough energy to power 1 million average homes in Pennsylvania for one year–and reduce carbon emissions by nearly 9 million tons, which is the equivalent of removing 1.5 million passenger cars from the roads for one year.
“A few years ago, projects like these existed only in theory. Today, they are a reality,” said Governor Rendell. “They benefit consumers by generating and saving electricity, driving down utility rates, making additional projects more affordable and feasible, while stimulating the economy by creating manufacturing and employment opportunities, attracting private investments, and making our environment cleaner.”
The Governor noted that the state investment provided through the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority, or PEDA, will also leverage more than $211 million in private funds, generating a 10-to-1 return on investment. Since 2005, PEDA has invested more than $99 million in 201 projects which have generated more than $883 million in matching funds.
He also stressed the need to increase Pennsylvania’s clean energy portfolio standards, saying higher standards will translate into even more jobs and economic development for the state–just as the first Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards law did.
“The solar industry has grown at a rapid pace despite the uncertain economy,” said Governor Rendell. “Investors and developers have proven anxious and eager to invest in clean solar energy projects. Venture capitalists alone poured $1.4 billion into the industry last year. Pennsylvania could attract a larger share of that action if we just increased the solar share of our portfolio standards law.”
When it was enacted in 2004, Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards act was one of the nation’s most ambitious laws, but has since been surpassed by other states.
The current law’s solar share requirement requires that one-half-of-one percent of the electricity Pennsylvanians purchase in 2021 come from solar power. However, Delaware has a 3.5 percent requirement by 2025; Maryland will require that 2 percent of their electricity comes from solar by 2022; New Jersey will require 4 percent solar generation by 2021; and Illinois–the seventh-largest coal producer in the nation–has set a 1.5 percent goal for 2025.
“Pennsylvania is on pace to become one of the top five states this year for the amount of installed solar generation capacity we have, but that’s because of the standards we enacted six years ago,” said the Governor, adding that less than two years ago, Pennsylvania’s installed solar capacity was minimal. “Today, we have more than 39 megawatts of capacity installed, or enough to power 5,900 homes and that number increases daily.
“Unless we move now to increase our solar share–even to a modest 1.5 percent target–the types of projects we’re announcing today won’t even consider Pennsylvania. They’ll look elsewhere and take their jobs with them. And the 600 solar businesses now operating in Pennsylvania may move to another state where the sun shines brighter. Not acting on this issue now will only hurt our economy in the long-run.”
The projects announced by the Governor were funded through three sources. Twenty-four projects were funded with $13 million from Growing Greener II, eight projects were funded with $5 million in federal stimulus funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and eight projects in the Pittsburgh region were funded with $2.5 million through Duquesne Light Co. settlement funds.