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  • Jackson Morris, Natural Resources Defense Council

PA Gov. Wolf Proposes Clean Energy Budget That Can Help Create Jobs, Cut Carbon and Save Lives

There's a great budget proposal out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania this week that can help jumpstart the Keystone State's economy, play a part in cutting carbon pollution from power plants under the EPA's Clean Power Plan, and help our kids breathe cleaner air.

That proposal?

Among a suite of other initiatives, Governor Wolf's new budget will provide $170 million for clean energy in our state. (Here's the spending breakdown of those components we're most excited about: $50 million for the PA Sunshine program, to help install solar power; $20 million for wind power incentives; $30 million to support high-efficiency combined heat and power projects; $20 million to underwrite clean energy investments in the agriculture sector; and, $50 million for energy efficiency programs.)

Governor Wolf's new budget proposal will encourage more clean energy installations like this one in Cambrian County, Pennsylvania, built by Pittsburgh-based EverPower. (photo credit: EverPower)

Clean energy policies that were put in place under previous administrations have already helped support more than 57,000 jobs and 4,200 businesses here in Pennsylvania. And we'd be remiss not to implement policies to capture the state's still vast energy efficiency and renewable energy potential, given that promoting clean energy can create even more jobs here in Pennsylvania, cut carbon and other pollution, and save consumers big money on their energy bills.

Using currently available technology, for instance, we Pennsylvanians can cost-effectively cut more than 27 percent of our forecasted energy use over the next 10 years, according to the state's own 2012 analysis. Imagine the cost savings from that. (PA Act 129, our state's energy efficiency law, has already delivered more that $750 million in savings to consumers of two of the state's largest utilities, PECO and PPL, with a return of $2.40 for every dollar invested. That return on investment, by the way, doesn't include health benefits that result when power plants produce less pollution or savings that come from mitigating the dangers of global warming. Were those counted, the savings-to-cost ratio would be even higher.)

Pennsylvania's wind power resources, too, are abundant. They now supply about 1.5 percent of the state's electricity, but could easily provide four times as much. And by 2020, nearly 100,000 solar systems could be installed in the state, producing 680 megawatts of clean energy.

If enacted, Governor Wolf's clean energy programs proposed in his budget will be a good step, too, toward helping the state comply with the EPA's Clean Power Plan. Meeting those carbon pollution reductions from power plants will help us mitigate what are already troubling impacts of climate change and prevent more than 330 adults Pennsylvanians' deaths each year by limiting dangerous co-pollutants, like smog and soot, that pour out of power plant smokestacks along with carbon dioxide.

Tapping our state's energy-efficiency and renewable energy resources has so much to offer us Pennsylvanians. Kudos to Governor Wolf for including clean energy policies in his budget that can help us begin to better realize that potential.

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