Penn. Renewable Energy Policies Target Farmers

This week, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection hosted two renewable energy seminars at the 2005 Ag Progress Days. The seminars focused on how the state’s farming community could tap into renewable energy technologies and benefit from state policies designed to encourage them.

“The installation of renewable energy projects can help farmers reduce operating costs at their farms, address environmental issues and in many cases increase revenue,” said the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty. McGinty explained that biodigesters and solar water pumping can reduce electricity costs while reducing environmental problems from nitrogen runoff at Pennsylvania’s farms. Biodiesel and ethanol production provide opportunities for the agricultural sector to help the state meet its transportation fuel needs. Wind farms can provide additional income to farmers. Landowners on which wind farms are sited can receive up to $4,000 per turbine annually and still have 95 percent of their land available for farming. A small wind energy system easily can reduce the landowner’s electricity bill by 50 percent to 90 percent. If connected to the grid, a farmer could sell back the excess electricity to the local utility. DEP offers financial incentives to help finance renewable energy projects from sources such as biomass, wind, solar, small-scale hydroelectric, landfill methane, coal-bed methane and waste-coal. The Alternative Fuels Incentive Program (AFIG) helps to fund homegrown alternative energy projects to lessen the state’s dependence on increasingly expensive foreign oil. AFIG recently expanded to invest in the state’s capacity to produce alternative fuels, which includes new technology in the production of biofuels. AFIG also funds projects that use alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, liquid propane gas, ethanol, methanol, hydrogen and biodiesel, among others.

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