Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Calls for Action on Energy Plan to Reduce Dependence on Foreign Oil, Grow Economy, Strengthen Secu

HARRISBURG , Pa., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G. Rendell today called on the General Assembly to use the special session on energy to grow Pennsylvania's economy by making it a leader in the renewable energy industry and strengthening its security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

The Governor began his address with a solemn remembrance of our armed forces.

"Since I delivered my budget address to the General Assembly on Feb. 6, 29 more Pennsylvanians have died fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan ," Governor Rendell said. "That brings the total number of Pennsylvanians who have died in these conflicts to 189. Sadly, that figure places our commonwealth fourth in the total number of losses among all states.

"With our 189 fallen citizens in mind, we begin our work together in this special session to address what Pennsylvania can do to help make our nation safer, and not only safer, but more prosperous," Governor Rendell said. "The decisions we make about energy affect almost every aspect of our lives -- how we get to and from work, how we heat and cool our homes, how we run our businesses, and how we protect our environment.

"But more and more, energy issues affect our basic economic health and our national security -- the issues that are at the core of every nation's well being," the Governor said. "We have it in our power, today, to build an innovative 'energy economy' in which Pennsylvania is a major supplier in the fast growing sector of renewable energy, not just a consumer."

"We owe it to the people of Pennsylvania to work together to build an energy policy that works for our citizens and puts more of our citizens to work ... a policy that allows us to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and makes our nation safe ... and most of all, an energy policy that helps us create a better world for our children by ensuring a supply of energy for generations to come that is clean, reliable and home grown.

"Make no mistake: energy is once again a 'front-burner' issue because the threat to America's energy independence is real. We see it every day in many ways -- high prices at the pump, huge home heating bills, and increasing dependence on foreign oil. What we do in this special session, the choices we make, will define us as a commonwealth for years to come.

The Governor again laid out the elements of the Energy Independence Strategy he unveiled in February and asked legislators to focus on two specific issues this session: the PennSecurity Fuels Initiative to boost homegrown, renewable fuels; and the $850 million Energy Independence Fund to invest in new technologies, businesses and products that either reduce energy use or produce clean, renewable energy.

"As you consider the specific elements of my Energy Independence Strategy, I hope you will keep in mind these key realities: the opportunity we have to gain economically by becoming an energy leader; the cost we will bear if we don't diversify our energy supplies; and the escalating price our nation and our fellow citizens are paying for an energy policy that leaves us in the grip of forces beyond our control," Governor Rendell said.

"My goal is to ensure that to the greatest degree possible, energy consumed in Pennsylvania is produced in Pennsylvania, by Pennsylvanians," the Governor said.

PennSecurity Fuels Initiative

The PennSecurity Fuels Initiative will foster economic development, energy independence and environmental protection through the use of alternative fuels by requiring all diesel fuel and gasoline sold in Pennsylvania to contain a percentage of ethanol or biodiesel.

The initiative will require that 1 billion gallons of home-grown biofuels be produced and consumed in Pennsylvania by 2017 -- an amount equal to what the state will import from the Persian Gulf by that time.

Pennsylvania is already well on its way to increasing production of homegrown alternative fuels. By the end of this year, Pennsylvania businesses expect to have the annual capacity to produce approximately 60 million gallons of biodiesel fuel. More capacity will come on-line in the near future.

The Energy Independence Fund

The Energy Independence Fund will be used to support the following clean energy activities:

A small -- just one-twentieth of one cent for each kilowatt of power -- public benefits charge on electricity use will generate a revenue source for the Energy Independence Fund. This charge will add up to about 45 cents per month or $5.40 annually for the average residential customer, about $3.03 a month or $36.36 annually for an average commercial customer in 2008 and $74 per month or $888 per year for the average industrial customer.

"Nobody wants to pay more for anything, but 45 cents a month per household is a small price to pay to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, grow our economy and strengthen our security," Governor Rendell said, noting that 17 other states and the District of Columbia already have enacted some form of public benefits charge on electricity use.

"By pooling the resources of Pennsylvania's electric power consumers, this fund can save money and stabilize electricity rates across Pennsylvania," the Governor said. "The fund will also enhance the quality of Pennsylvania's environment, create 13,000 new jobs, and attract $3.5 billion in new investment to Pennsylvania."

More information about the Governor's Energy Independence Strategy, and the text of the Governor's address, can be found at http://www.depweb.state.pa.us.

The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit his Web site at: http://www.governor.state.pa.us.

CONTACT:

Chuck Ardo

717-783-1116

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor



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