Articles filed under Energy Policy from Pennsylvania
A fight over renewable energy and biofuels led to a temporary shutdown of Pennsylvania's state government and, despite a compromise being reached, the opponents will resume battle in September. At issue is Governor Edward Rendell's energy independence strategy to promote renewables, energy conservation and biofuels. The Democratic governor hoped to fund an $850 million effort through a surcharge of 0.05 cents/kWh on utility bills, but Republican Senate leaders who oppose taxes resisted the idea. They also objected to measures requiring utilities to opt for conservation and renewables when customer load grows. And they opposed requiring utilities to install 'smart' meters that allow customers to see time-of-day prices and cut usage accordingly.
Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell and the Republican-controlled Senate reached an agreement last night on a $27.3 billion state budget, ending a partial state shutdown that idled 25,000 government employees. Speaking after 11 p.m. local time, the second-term Democrat said he and Republicans agreed on a deal that left intact the budget outline he presented in February. Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo said Rendell agreed to forgo a planned annual surcharge on energy bills to fund clean energy programs that became the main sticking point and said he would seek another source of money for the project.
Renewable energy projects including wind and biomass are springing up in Schuylkill County, and state utilities will be required to increase their purchase of power generated by these and similar sources over the next 13 years. Although reports suggest customers should not experience much increase in cost and, in some cases, could see savings as these new sources become more prevalent, experts say other factors must also be considered. "There is no magic bullet as far as getting us off fossil fuels right now," said Joel Morrison, a research associate at Penn State University and fund manager for the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund.
Legislators in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic passed a number of bills applying to the electric power industry, with several states committing to emissions reductions through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and other states making broad organizational changes to their regulatory processes.
As the legislature pushed past its weekend budget deadline, the state's power industry squared off with Gov. Rendell over energy proposals he says are crucial to keeping electricity prices from skyrocketing as decade-old caps expire in the years ahead. Dozens of lobbyists representing utilities and power generators were working the Capitol's anterooms last week, pulling legislators off the floor to urge changes in the package of bills that Rendell calls his "Energy Independence Strategy." The fight helped derail efforts to pass a 2008 budget by this weekend's traditional deadline, as Rendell repeated his threat to hold up the budget unless his energy package was approved.
CAIRNBROOK - As the outcry against the Shaffer Mountain windmill development intensifies, state officials are considering holding a public hearing before proceeding with permits for the 30 proposed turbines. A state Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman said Wednesday the agency has received enough comments from concerned individuals to warrant the hearing. "Our biggest fear was that there would be no hearing at all," said windmill opponent Lori Waylonis of Central City. "That was one of our stands. We were trying our best to force a hearing."
WASHINGTON - The House rejected a resolution Wednesday that would block government plans to spur construction of major new power lines in many states regardless of local opposition. The issue has been contentious in parts of the East Coast and in the Southwest, where two high priority transmission corridors for power lines were proposed. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., warned colleagues that unwanted power lines could come to their district.
In 2004, Gov. Rendell warned delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Boston of the growing energy crisis and said it was time for America to step up and lead the world in the production of renewable energy. Today, Rendell made a similar pitch to a local audience. Standing in the Capitol Rotunda, he challenged business leaders, consumers and lawmakers to "step boldly into the future" and turn Pennsylvania into the leading producer of alternative energy in the country. Amid the seasonal budget frenzy, Rendell tried to drum up support for his Energy Independence Strategy, a plan that he said would put the state in the forefront of the clean energy movement.
Permitting the placement of windmills in state forests and parks would be an abomination -- an outrage against the very concept of public lands set aside to permit the enjoyment of nature, preserve habitat for wild animals and plants, and protect watersheds.
When it comes to energy sources, nothing comes without a price. The question is where and when we'll pay, as individual consumers - and as a species. The direct costs are easy to measure. All you have to do is look at the numbers flying by on the gas pump the next time you fill up or check your latest utility bills. It's the indirect costs - and unintended consequences - that usually leave people scratching their heads when it's too late.
State officials expect a decision in six months on whether to allow development of commercial wind-power facilities on state forest land. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has been considering the idea for several years. Legislative approval is needed to allow commercial windmills in any of the 20 state forest districts which cover more than 2 million acres. If DCNR and Rendell administration officials give the idea a green light, they would need to find a state lawmaker to sponsor enabling legislation.
The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said yesterday that Secretary Michael DiBerardinis never meant to imply that state parks were being considered as sites for wind farms. But state forests are being considered, spokeswoman Chris Novak said.
Gov. Ed Rendell's policy guru said Pennsylvania can't build its way out of an energy shortage and needs to embrace energy efficiency and conservation. Donna Cooper, secretary of the Office of Policy and Planning, said the state will need 10 new coal-fired plants, or five new nuclear plants, to meet projected energy demand in 10 years. Or, she said, it could build 18,000 wind turbines, which would use up 35,000 acres, an area "half the size of Philadelphia." Or it could build 44,000 megawatts of solar energy, which she said would cover an area nearly the size of Delaware County.
From New York to Virginia, residents face the prospect of new high-voltage line construction after an announcement last week by the Department of Energy. Now, East Coast lawmakers are banding together in a bid to short-circuit the federal decision making it easier for power companies to build major power lines like the New York Regional Interconnect.
RALEIGH - A nonprofit environmental advocacy group, which staunchly believes global warming must be reduced through reductions in human-caused carbon dioxide emissions, controls another nonprofit organization that advises a climate action panel started by the N.C. Division of Air Quality. The DAQ-created group, in turn, makes recommendations on carbon-dioxide reductions to the Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change. The advisory organization, the Center for Climate Strategies, is Pennsylvania-based and helped establish the study commission through a proposal to DAQ. But there is question whether the study panel, called the Climate Action Plan Advisory Group (CAPAG), is authorized under N.C. law.
Hybrid vehicles are getting a push from Gov. Ed Rendell. So are solar and wind power, biofuels and renewable energy. The governor yesterday made $31.4 million in grants available to help businesses, municipalities, organizations and individuals develop and use clean technology, energy and alternative fuels.
States with renewable portfolio standards have generated growth in the renewable energy sector, but many of the Appalachian states don't have one. Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New York all have some fairly progressive goals, but West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee don't have a state RPS and wind projects often ignite battles.
A Feb. 2 letter by windpower industry lobbyist Frank Maisano ignored two major problems that industrial windplants face in Pennsylvania: # Huge numbers of industrial-scale wind turbines will be needed to provide even a small fraction of the electricity we use (4,000 utility-scale turbines covering 500 miles of ridgeline to provide 10 percent of the commonwealth’s electricity). # Because Pennsylvania’s winds are relatively modest, industrial windfarms are being built mostly on forested ridgetops to capture the most powerful winds. In the Keystone State, these ridgetops are our last strongholds of unfragmented forests and the unique species there. Readers should be aware that Frank Maisano also was the spokesman for the Global Climate Coalition, a now-defunct umbrella group for companies opposed to the Kyoto treaty, and who dismissed the Kyoto Protocol as largely symbolic in nature.
Our state leaders are promulgating a false choice between wind and coal. While wind is renewable and cleaner than coal, wind will never replace coal — wind is too unreliable.
When a group of passionate windmill opponents took their message before Somerset County commissioners, Commissioner Brad Cober said the county can do little to stop turbine development. But he had this bit of advice for wind-power opponents: Urge elected officials to stop federal tax credits for wind power.