Pennsylvania doubling purchases of green electricity

| 29 Sep 2011 | 09:22

Wayne County company is leading supplier HARRISBURG - Governor Rendell announced Tuesday that the commonwealth has redoubled its green electricity purchase to 20 percent. Through modifying its existing contract with Community Energy Inc., the commonwealth will purchase 200,000 megawatt hours a year, or 20 percent of state government’s electricity, from renewable sources such as wind and hydroelectric energy, all at a premium rate of only 0.34 cents per kilowatt hour. The enhanced purchase makes Pennsylvania the largest state purchaser of green electricity and ranks Pennsylvania number 12 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Top 25 Green Power Partners list. Wayne, Delaware County-based Community Energy is a marketer and developer of wind energy generation founded in 1999. CEI this year became a wholly owned subsidiary of IBERDROLA, the largest owner and operator of renewable energy facilities in the world. IBERDROLA is also largest shareholder in the Spanish wind company, Gamesa Corp., which chose to base its North American headquarters in Pennsylvania following a campaign spearheaded by Governor Rendell. Gamesa, the second largest wind energy company in the world, earlier this year increased its investment in the commonwealth to more than $84 million, with its U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia and the launch of manufacturing facilities in Bucks and Cambria counties. Gamesa will create as many as 1,000 jobs in Pennsylvania over five years. “Pennsylvania’s leadership on energy is unmatched,” said Brent Alderfer, Community Energy’s chief executive officer. “The latest purchase of clean energy continues to drive progress and sets the benchmark for other states. Pennsylvania’s commitment to action points the way to a secure, clean energy future nationally.” The contract calls for electricity that is generated 40 percent from wind power and 60 percent from hydroelectric sources. Both produce electricity with zero emissions of air pollution. The 200,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy represent avoided emissions of 951 tons of sulfur dioxide, 271 tons of nitrogen oxide and 123,410 tons of carbon dioxide. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide contribute to acid rain, fine particulate pollution and regional haze, and nitrogen oxide is also a key component of smog. Carbon dioxide is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. Shortly after taking office in 2003, Rendell doubled the state’s commitment to its Green Power program, requiring state facilities to meet 10 percent of their energy needs through renewable energy sources. Pennsylvanians now spend some $30 billion per year on imported energy fuels. The state has launched other major initiatives to build a clean, indigenous, diversified energy industry in the state. Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard ensures that 18 percent of all retail energy generated by 2020 comes from clean, efficient and advanced resources. Clean energy builds substantially on the state’s leadership in wind production east of the Mississippi, with wind sources providing enough clean energy to power some 70,000 homes. The Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority has awarded $15 million in grants and loans for 41 clean energy projects that will leverage $200 million in private investment. The projects will create 1,558 permanent and construction jobs, according to Rendell’s statement. The Pennsylvania Energy Harvest Grant Program has awarded $15.9 million and leveraged another $43.7 million in private funds since its inception in May 2003 for projects using sources such as wind, solar, biomass, waste coal and recycled energy.