Pa. Gov. Wolf’s Budget to Boost Green Energy on Back of Fossil Fuels

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By Katelyn Ferral 

Gov. Tom Wolf is looking to borrow money to inject millions of dollars in subsidies and grants into Pennsylvania’s renewable energy industry.

In his proposed $30 billion budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year, Wolf would fund several energy initiatives by issuing $675 million in bonds. He would pay the interest on the bond money with $55 million from a proposed severance tax on oil and gas drillers.

The plan would direct $225 million to energy investments. It would provide $150 million for grants and other aid to renewables, including $50 million to resurrect a rebate program for solar projects. A $100 million program enacted in 2008 to fund solar installations ended in 2013, and a 30 percent federal tax credit for solar projects is due to expire in 2016.

Another $20 million in bond money would fund a wind energy generation program, and $20 million would expand a green program to generate electricity by using agricultural waste. The Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority also would receive $30 million to expand the market for clean energy technology and fuels, and $30 million would fund initiatives in using recycled heat to produce power, or what is known as co-generation.

“We must expand and develop new markets for Pennsylvania’s energy technologies, services and fuels, and this budget makes historic investments to bolster and transform our energy economy,” said John Quigley, acting secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The $225 million in energy investments also would fund a “last mile” natural gas distribution line fund, which would offer $25 million in matching grants to business parks and manufacturers to construct the remaining miles of pipelines.

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