The prospects for renewable energy in Pennsylvania received a significant boost yesterday, when Democrat Governor Edward Rendell signed into law a Bill establishing a $650 million energy fund to support the sector.
The move follows an earlier commitment by Rendell to make the state a leader in pursuing energy independence, by creating jobs in the renewable energy sector and reducing dependence on foreign oil.
Speaking about the potentially far-reaching impact of the fund, Governor Rendell said:
“This new investment fund will strategically target new resources to leverage as much as $3.5 billion in private investment and create at least 13,000 new, good-paying jobs in an industry that is sure to be to the 21st century what information technology and biosciences were to the later 20th century.”
Amongst other things, the fund will set aside $500 million that provides:
- $165 million for loans and grants to promote the development of alternative and renewable energy projects (except solar) among businesses and local governments;
- $100 million for loans, grants and rebates to cover up to 35% of the costs incurred by residential consumers and businesses when they install solar energy technology;
- $80 million in grants and loans for economic development projects in the solar industry;
- $40 million to the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority to support early stage activities, such as incubator support services, translational and early stage research in start-up businesses that develop and implement energy efficiency technologies;
- $25 million for wind energy and geothermal projects;
- $25 million for green buildings, in the form of grants and loans for homeowners and small businesses to build energy efficient structures, or renovate an existing building to improve its energy efficiency.
The Bill also introduces a $150 million consumer energy program for individuals and small businesses to support projects that conserve energy and use it more efficiently. The program will run for eight years and includes:
- $92.5 million for homeowners and small businesses to meet a quarter of the cost of buying and installing energy conservation tools;
- $50 million in tax credits to help Pennsylvania companies develop and build alternative energy projects in the state, at a rate of up to $1 million per project per year.