Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell April 10 brought the state one step closer to energy independence by making $31.4 million available in grants to help businesses and organizations develop clean energy and alternative fuel projects.
The projects will create jobs, strengthen agriculture and biofuels producers, and promote homeland security by diversifying America's energy production.
"Over the past four years, Pennsylvania has become a world leader in the development of new, clean sources of energy and fuels through strategic investments and policies that foster innovation and attract substantial international investment," Governor Rendell said.
"Today, we are building on that foundation, providing $31.4 million in new grant opportunities for the development of clean-burning alternative fuels and renewable energy sources that will help cut our reliance on imported oil and natural gas and continue Pennsylvania's leadership in clean energy manufacturing.
"These grants will be a substantial, and important, investment to help Pennsylvania put a broader energy strategy in place to protect consumers from soaring electricity costs and to achieve energy independence," Governor Rendell said.
"My proposed $850 million Energy Independence Fund will give us the tools we need to increase Pennsylvania's clean energy production capacity and to save electricity consumers up to $10 billion over 10 years."
The grants will be funded through Pennsylvania's three innovative alternative energy development programs — up to $16.4 million through the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants program, including $10 million through the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority and $5 million in Energy Harvest grants.
Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty announced the availability of the grants during a tour of a landfill gas-to-energy project by Johnstown Regional Energy LLC in Somerset County.
The project, which was partially financed by a previous $250,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority, captures gas from two landfills and processes it into pipeline-quality methane gas.
"Pennsylvania is turning environmental and energy challenges into opportunities for economic development and energy independence," McGinty said.
"This landfill gas project captures potent greenhouse gas and turns it into secure sources of affordable energy for Pennsylvania homes and businesses. Alternative energy projects such as this are reducing environmental harm and creating new, domestic energy sources to meet our growing needs."
The three alternative energy programs will begin accepting grant applications today.
The deadline for receipt of applications for all three programs is June 15.
McGinty emphasized that Governor Rendell's Energy Independence Strategy is essential to continuing grant funding for clean energy projects and for maximizing the grants' benefits.
"Pennsylvania's current energy investment programs have created over 2,500 jobs in the commonwealth, but since funding dollars are limited, the state is only able to support 10 percent of requests for energy dollars — losing out on at least $100 million in potential investments every year," McGinty said.
The Energy Independence Strategy would accelerate the role that Pennsylvania companies play in the production of clean energy components and systems by making over $100 million available in the form of venture capital, loans and grants so Pennsylvania firms can attract private sector investors and grow their companies.
New state resources would target up to $500 million for infrastructure improvements, construction, early project development costs and equipment purchases undertaken to attract private investment in energy-related economic development projects, including solar manufacturing; advanced coal technologies; biofuels; and energy conservation, efficiency, and energy demand management projects.