PA DEP Secretary Underscores Need for Energy Independence Strategy During Bucks County Town Hall Meeting

McGinty Says Governor Rendell's Plan Protects Consumers, Environment;

Strengthens National Security, Economy

MIDDLETOWN TWP., Pa., Oct. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- To protect Pennsylvania's economy, environment and America's national security, Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty today said it is vitally important for investments to be made in clean and renewable energy sources.

The secretary said families and businesses are facing numerous energy challenges, and will continue to do so unless leaders act now.

McGinty said Governor Edward G. Rendell's Energy Independence Strategy will move Pennsylvania to the top tier of states working to advance clean, domestic energy solutions and promote cost-effective conservation.

"With record high gas prices, the threat of double- and triple-digit increases in the price of electricity, and growing greenhouse gas emissions, energy has once again become a 'front burner' issue with real consequences to our way of life," said McGinty during a town hall meeting to discuss energy and climate change. "Governor Rendell has proposed a plan that addresses these issues head-on and strengthens our national security, bolsters our economy, and protects our consumers.

"With the United States importing 60 percent of its oil - much of it from countries that are politically unstable or controlled by regimes hostile to America's interests - we've become vulnerable. And as the caps that have held electricity rates in check for the last decade expire statewide within the next two-and-a-half years, our families and businesses are going to face substantial rate spikes that will hurt their pocketbooks and bottom lines."

The secretary said the Governor's plan would require electric utility companies to provide their customers with smart meters and the option of choosing time-of-use programs. These tools reduce their electricity usage, especially at peak rate periods.

By reducing demand, she said Pennsylvania can avoid the need to build expensive new generation plants that pollute the environment and high-voltage transmission lines that can lower property values.

Governor Rendell unveiled his Energy Independence Strategy in February. The plan invests $850 million to expand the state's production of alternative and renewable energy sources and clean fuels, reduce Pennsylvania's dependence on foreign oil, and help consumers conserve energy to drive down electricity rates and save money. The strategy also provides rebates for consumers who buy energy-efficient appliances and solar power systems.

Once implemented, the plan will save consumers $10 billion over the next decade. Additionally, the $850 million Energy Independence Fund will attract $3.5 billion in economic growth, which will create 13,000 new jobs.

Since enacting the Governor's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act in 2004, Pennsylvania has become a leading destination for alternative and renewable energy projects. These projects have attracted $1 billion in new investments and created 2,500 new jobs.

The law requires that 18 percent of all energy generated and sold in the state comes from alternative and renewable sources by 2021.

"Earlier this week, I was here in Bucks County with the Speaker Nancy Pelosi who praised Pennsylvania's work towards energy independence and said we were ahead of the other states in this rapidly growing industry," said McGinty.

"Bucks County has played a tremendous role in this energy renaissance. There are exciting projects taking place here--especially in wind and solar energy--that are creating exciting opportunities for our people. We can spur even more such growth with the Governor's plan," McGinty added.

For more information on the Energy Independence Strategy, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, and click on the "Fueling Energy Savings" icon.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection



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