Wind Energy in Pennsylvania

During the 1900s, Pennsylvania earned a reputation as a center of the steel industry, and the state is currently experiencing a resurgence through a rapidly developing energy industry. Although much of the focus in the press has been on liquid natural gas coming out of the Marcellus Shale, Pennsylvania is also becoming a strong center of wind energy. And as with the other industries Pennsylvania has tackled, the state is surging forward with full force. For example, in 2007, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, became the first county in the nation to power all of its buildings with wind power
Part of what is driving the development of the wind energy industry in Pennsylvania is the state’s dedication to alternative energy. The state legislature’s passing of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act, which is administered by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission demonstrated a commitment to promoting economic development through the use of renewable energy sources. Specifically, the Commission requires 18 percent of electricity generated in the state to be alternative energy sources, such as wind energy, within 15 years. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority has consistently invested in clean energy projects, helping to create jobs and strengthen the state’s economy.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the state currently has wind power capacity of 300 megawatts, and more wind farms are planned for the future. The surge in wind power throughout the state is likely to continue, with the Environmental Protection and Community and Economic Development running a $25 million loan and grant program for wind and geothermal energy projects.

The investment in wind energy provides a variety of benefits for the industry and the state as a whole. Providing funds for wind energy project helps get new companies off of the ground and provides jobs for Pennsylvania residents. The success of such projects also provides another option for energy consumers in Pennsylvania, which promotes more competition and encourages energy companies to increase efficiency and reduce prices. The reduction in prices helps provide a boost in income for consumers, which in turn helps every industry.

So far, the largest wind facilities are Locust Ridge II and Armenia Mountain wind farm, both of which have production capacities of 100 megawatts. Although both wind developments are now owned by organizations, when Locust Ridge II began, it was founded by an independent local resident. And there are still many regions across the state that are well-suited to the production of wind power, and while it may seem too good to be true, it is, in fact, possible for individuals to build a wind turbine on their own property.

And the state is attempting to encourage more companies to develop wind energy generation facilities through the enactment of a 2006 law that exempts commercial wind farms from property tax assessments. This provides a valuable incentive to invest in renewable energy production on a large scale, further improving the future of wind energy in Pennsylvania.

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