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.
“Fundamentally, that level of energy growth is not doable, reasonable or sustainable,” Cooper said yesterday at the Penn Future Clean Energy Conference in East Pennsboro Twp. “Energy efficiency and conservation has to be a significant part.”
She was there to make a pitch for Rendell’s energy independence legislation, which he optimistically hopes to get through the Legislature in June.
The package of bills includes incentives for alternative energy development and deployment, and, more controversially, a small system benefit charge to pay for the programs. That fee would cost an average residential electric customer $5 to $6 per year.
Once the multiyear fee is approved, the administration plans to borrow the $800 million revenue stream so it can get all of the money up front. It then would repay the money as the fees come in.
By David DeKok
1 June 2007
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