DEP chief says Pa. to add more homegrown energy

September 29, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - America has a big appetite for foreign oil, but Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty says the state has a plan to add more homegrown energy to its diet.

The PennSecurity Fuels Initiative was a project to encourage the use of renewable energy that McGinty outlined during a speech Thursday at Wilson College. The goal is to produce 900 million gallons of transportation fuels a year within the next decade, she said.

"We would grow and use the same amount of fuel we currently import from the Persian Gulf," McGinty told a group of about 60 students and area residents. The program will keep billions of dollars in Pennsylvania that would otherwise go "into the hands of some people who don't think very kindly of us," she said.

Pennsylvania is a net exporter of soybeans and McGinty said much of the state's renewable fuels production will be biodiesel. She said biodiesel production, in which several companies in the state are involved, could reach 40 million gallons within a year.


In addition to being a domestic source of renewable energy, McGinty said biodiesel is better than petroleum diesel because it produces no particulate matter when burned and is easier on engines. Biodiesel offers similar benefits as a home heating oil, she said.

Pennsylvania is a net importer of corn, but McGinty said the state's ethanol industry will likely be based primarily on cellulosic ethanol - alcohol produced from wood fiber. That will benefit the lumber industry, an important part of the economy in the state's northern tier counties, she said.

The PennSecurity initiative will invest $30 million over the next five years to assist companies in developing production and distribution systems for biodiesel, ethanol, coal liquefaction and other fuels, according to the plan unveiled in May by Gov. Edward G. Rendell.

In another area of energy production, McGinty said Pennsylvania is the leading state in the East in wind power production and "we're the only state with the capacity to fully manufacture wind power plants. Gamesa, a Spanish wind turbine generator manufacturer based in Spain, has four factories in Pennsylvania and its Gamesa Wind US subsidiary had its headquarters in Philadelphia, she said.

The state is encouraging wind energy in another way, having offered small wind turbines to some municipalities. One local government, she said, used its turbine to power the filter pump of its municipal pool and sells the energy it generates during colder months to the local utility.

Pennsylvania also has one of the largest solar energy programs of any state, second only to New Jersey, McGinty said.

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