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Pennsylvania Gov. Schweiker releases final state energy policy to public

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 15, 2002 — Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker Friday announced he has accepted recommendations made by the Governor’s Energy Task Force to help ensure adequate energy supplies and to encourage energy efficiency in Pennsylvania.

The Governor also released the final Pennsylvania Energy Policy to the public.

“The Pennsylvania Energy Policy is a comprehensive plan to ensure our energy supply furthers our commitment to a clean, safe environment, a healthy economy and an incomparable quality of life,” Gov. Schweiker said.

“These recommendations build on Pennsylvania’s national leadership when it comes to developing economically sound, competitive markets for meeting domestic energy needs.

“Careful energy planning and market monitoring have spared Pennsylvania from the shortages and high energy prices experienced by other states. This new policy underscores our belief that limited governmental intrusion must continue as Pennsylvania’s energy markets evolve.

“Moreover, inherent in this new energy policy is my commitment to Pennsylvania Electric Choice, the national model for electric competition done right. Through rate caps to protect consumers and the collaborative partnerships that secured consensus among the parties, Pennsylvania has set the standard.

“The work of our Energy Task Force will boldly continue that national leadership and our strides to `grow greener’ and ‘smarter.’ We also continue our work to protect public health and safety through educational outreach and assistance to Pennsylvanians and through emergency preparedness. “We’ll have some important and exciting announcements as we turn this policy into practice statewide to protect the well-being of our citizens and serve the needs of consumers.”

Key recommendations include:

* Building on the success of Pennsylvania Electric Choice by continuing to foster competitive markets to meet the Commonwealth’s energy demands with long-term supplies at competitive prices;
* Developing and maintaining critical energy generation and delivery infrastructure where needed to help meet regional needs;
* Continuing state government’s commitment to purchasing renewable and cleaner forms of electricity. Gov. Schweiker in December announced that the Commonwealth awarded a contract to purchase renewable energy to supply 5 percent of state government’s power needs for the next two years;
* Developing and promoting new energy technologies to lessen the environmental impact, and to improve efficiency and safety;
* Working with the Governor’s Task Force on Security to review the security of the Commonwealth’s energy infrastructure;
* Encouraging existing “opportunity fuels” for electricity generation and fuel production, such as waste-coal piles, agricultural byproducts and methane from agricultural activities, landfills and wastewater treatment;
* Supporting national efforts to ensure an adequate, reliable and diverse supply of energy;
* Encourage the development and use of energy-efficient equipment and Demand Side Response technologies in residential, commercial and industrial applications; and
* Providing Pennsylvanians with a variety of convenient and affordable transportation options.

On July 24, 2001, the Energy Task Force under Gov. Tom Ridge released proposed recommendations to the public from business, government, environmentalists, consumers and the energy industry.

Gov. Schweiker thanked the 20 members of the Task Force, particularly: Fritz Bittenbender, Chairman of the Task Force and Secretary of Administration; Glen Thomas, Chairman of the Public Utility Commission and a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Security; and Christine Martin, Deputy Secretary for the Department of Environmental Protection.

Thomas and Martin were senior policy managers assigned to the Task Force under Gov. Ridge. Gov. Ridge in September 2001 formed the Governor’s Energy Task Force — made up of state agency representatives from the departments of Aging, Community and Economic Development (DCED), Environmental Protection (DEP), Health, General Services, Public Welfare (DPW) and Transportation; the Public Utility Commission (PUC); the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA); the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services; the Lieutenant Governor’s Office; and the Pennsylvania Rural Development Council.

Responsibility for implementing Pennsylvania’s energy strategy is distributed among several agencies. The PUC oversees Pennsylvania’s restructured electricity generation and natural-gas markets, including participation in the successful Electric Choice program. Electric Choice became law in Pennsylvania five years ago this month. Since then, Pennsylvanians have saved nearly $4 billion.

And five years from now, Electric Choice is expected to create 40,000 new jobs. DEP promotes energy efficiency for homes and industry, and encourages the development of new sources of renewable energy. DEP also provides Alternative Fuel Incentive Grants. DPW administers Pennsylvania’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a grant program that helps pay heating bills or repair equipment.

DCED oversees the state Weatherization Program, which provides money to local governments and nonprofits to assist low-income families to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

The Department of Aging, through its statewide network of 52 Area Agencies on Aging, provides seniors with information, referrals and assistance regarding available energy-assistance programs and monitors at-risk seniors who may need assistance to protect their health and safety.

The Office of the State Fire Commissioner, headquartered at PEMA, distributes safety information related to the use of various types of heating sources. For more information, visit the PA PowerPort at www.state.pa.us or go directly to www.PAenergy.state.pa.us.