Bulk of Penn. “Clean Energy” Funds Target Coal Projects

The Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority awarded $10 million to help finance 17 clean energy projects in the state. The funding represents the first awards by the state’s newly revitalized PEDA to building a manufacturing base from clean energy projects. In terms of funding and capacity size, however, some of the largest “clean energy” awards go to coal-fired projects; not the typical solar, wind and biomass one envisions of clean energy.

The largest award of the 17 projects, would involve the re-opening of three coal mines to provide feedstock for a coking operation. In Cambria County, the questionably-named Pristine Resources Inc. will receive $3.5 million to convert waste heat from a 1.7-million-tons-per-year coking operation into an operation that will produce 130 MW of electricity annually. The project will create 179 jobs at the coking operation and another 500 jobs in three coal mines that would be reopened to provide feedstock to the plant. In Allegheny County, PFBC Environmental Energy Technology Inc. will receive $1 million to design, construct and commission a “Process Rest Facility” capable of burning a wide variety of Pennsylvania waste coals. Some other projects, however, more closely match the common view of clean energy projects. These include a wind project in Luzerne County where Community Energy will receive $1 million to build a 24 MW utility-scale wind farm using Gamesa turbines to produce an anticipated 73,000 MWhs annually. There are also two solar-related projects: Plextronics Inc. will receive $300,000 to fund the research necessary for development of the next generation of solar cells based on polymer technology. In Westmoreland County, Solar Power Industries Inc. will receive $302,676 to research potential nontraditional means to increase available feedstock of solar-grade silicon, which is used for the majority of solar cells manufacturing and experiencing a supply-side constraints worldwide. Two more projects tap landfill gas for electric power while another modifies a natural gas micro-turbine to run on B100 biodiesel. The 17 selected projects will receive financial assistance in the form of grants or loans for a variety of electric power projects, including wind, solar, biomass, waste coal and coal gasification, and comprehensive redevelopment plans, among others. The state financing supports millions of dollars in funding being invested into the projects by private interests. Whether for coal-fired generation or renewable energy projects, all are expected to stimulate the state’s economy, creating as many as 1,786 permanent and construction jobs in the commonwealth. In addition, the research projects, if successful, could net as many as 327 full-time jobs. “We, in Pennsylvania, have the ingenuity and resources to develop and deploy new clean energy technology,” Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said. “Our commonwealth is offering significant financial incentives to make energy manufacturing a cornerstone in the state’s economic future and ensure that more electricity generation comes from environmentally beneficial sources. PEDA refocuses our priorities on indigenous energy resources by investing in clean, efficient energy made in Pennsylvania.” Projects were evaluated on a variety of criteria, including their ability to promote Pennsylvania?s indigenous energy resources, encourage energy diversity and enhance energy security. The projects were judged on their potential to create jobs and stimulate investment in the commonwealth. Potential environmental benefits, as well as technical feasibility and cost-effectiveness, were also considered. PEDA was established in 1982 to promote applied energy research, provide financial incentives for the deployment of clean, alternative energy projects and promote investment in Pennsylvania’s energy sector. After a period of inactivity, Gov. Edward G. Rendell revitalized PEDA as part of his strategy to build a clean, indigenous, diversified energy industry in the state. Pennsylvania is home to one of the nation?s most progressive alternative energy portfolio standards, ensuring that in 15 years, 18 percent of all of the energy generated comes from clean, efficient sources. Pennsylvania is one of two states with a portfolio standard that includes energy efficiency. For the full list of funded projects, see the following link:
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