From: Paul Schaefer, ENN
Published August 23, 2007 08:11 PM

Pa. Governor Signs Law To Expand Alternative Energy Use, Solar Industries

ERIE, Pa. - The Governor of Pennsylvania signed a bill today to grow the alternative energy industry in that state. He did it while visiting an Erie County middle school that is adding a 30-kilowatt photovoltaic system as part of its renovation. The solar panels were funded with a $250,000 grant through the state's Energy Harvest program.


Governor Edward G. Rendell today said Pennsylvania will be better positioned to attract new economic development projects in rapidly growing industries because of a stronger commitment to clean and renewable energy under House Bill 1203.


"When we invest in Pennsylvania, we get results," said Governor Rendell during a news conference at the J.S. Wilson Middle School in Erie. "We've said that from day one, and now, four-and-a-half years later, Pennsylvania has a record number of jobs and our economy continues to grow.


"We passed the historic Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act in 2004 to put Pennsylvania on the path to the greater use of clean, renewable and alternative energy sources. Once we made that commitment, we saw growth in those industries --- solar, wind, biomass and methane --- totaling $1 billion in new private investment and the creation of approximately 2,500 jobs.


"I'm proud to say we've taken that commitment one step further, and that will mean more opportunities for our people, communities and environment," added the Governor. "By increasing our use of clean and renewable energy technologies, we are growing Pennsylvania's economy, protecting our environment and strengthening our national security."


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The Governor officially signed H.B. 1203 on July 17 to create Act 35 of 2007. The law amends the commonwealth's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) Act to include the broader use of solar technology in retail electricity sales.


The Governor said this provision will help grow Pennsylvania's solar industry.


"We invested in our economy, in our communities, and in our people, and we also made a commitment to growing our use of clean and renewable energy," said Governor Rendell. "Because of that, one of the world's largest solar companies, Conergy, now calls Pennsylvania home. In addition, we've attracted a number of exciting start-ups and early growth stage companies here that offer tremendous potential."


Since Governor Rendell took office, Conergy and the second largest wind turbine manufacturer, Gamesa, have chosen Pennsylvania as the base for their North American headquarters. Gamesa has also established manufacturing facilities in Cambria and Bucks counties. The commitments by the two companies will result in more than 1,000 new jobs and more than $200 million in new investments in Pennsylvania.


This year, SunTechnics --- a subsidiary of Conergy --- merged with Pennsylvania-based Mesa Environmental Sciences Inc., while start-up solar material manufacturer AE Polysilicon and Axion Power International Inc --- a leader in the development of advanced batteries and energy storage devices --- announced plans to locate in the state. Combined, these projects account for more than $100 million in new investment in the state and the potential for hundreds of new jobs.


"These few examples --- and there are many more --- highlight the economic growth we can achieve and the opportunities we can create if we're willing to invest in our future," added the Governor.


House Bill 1203 also is designed to encourage electricity suppliers to incorporate more clean energy solutions into the portfolio of resources used to provide service to its customers. Additionally, the bill:


-- Ensures that at least 850 megawatts of clean, solar power is generated


in the commonwealth by 2020;


-- States that the utilities must plan ahead in making electricity


purchases to ensure they are able to meet the clean and alternative


energy requirements of the act;


-- Adds solar thermal to the list of renewable resources that qualify for


the Tier I energy source designation. Tier I sources generally consist


of clean alternatives like wind, solar and biomass;


-- Ensures that alternative energy credits remain the property of the


individual or alternative energy system from which they were


generated, unless a legal agreement exists between parties that states


otherwise; and


-- Makes clear that all renewable energy produced within the commonwealth


and renewable energy produced within the territory of the grid


operator serving the regulated energy utility may satisfy the


utility's alternative energy purchasing requirement. Projects outside


the commonwealth and outside the grid operator service territory


cannot satisfy the legal obligation of the utility.


"Pennsylvania is sending a strong message that we're committed to developing clean and renewable energy solutions in the commonwealth by opening new markets to these technologies and expanding their use," said Governor Rendell. "This measure moves Pennsylvania one step closer to an energy independent future, and I'm eager to continue that momentum in the fall during a special session of the legislature devoted to energy matters."


In an agreement with the General Assembly, Governor Rendell will call a special session on Sept. 17 to discuss his plan for increasing Pennsylvania's production and consumption of homegrown biofuels and financing the Energy Independence Fund.


The Governor will also continue his push to protect the state's families and businesses from the double- and triple-digit rate increases that will hit Pennsylvania in three years.


The Governor's Energy Independence Strategy is designed to save consumers $10 billion in energy costs over the next decade, increase Pennsylvania's alternative and renewable energy production capacity, reduce the state's dependence on foreign fuels, and create more jobs.


For more information: www.depweb.state.pa.us.


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