York, PA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — July 10, 2008 – At a time when conventional energy prices are at or near record highs, Governor Edward G. Rendell today signed into law a new fund that will save families and small businesses money on their energy bills by supporting investments in energy conservation and efficiency.
As part of the $650 million package, residential consumers and small businesses will be eligible for $92.5 million in loans, grants, reimbursements and rebates to support energy conservation and weatherization projects that can ultimately reduce energy bills. Another $40 million is available to provide financial assistance through the state’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, and establish an energy efficiency loan fund through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
Households and small businesses can also qualify for $100 million to support the installation of solar energy technology. Solar power is a key cost-saving technology that enables homes and businesses to generate their own electricity and sell any excess power back to the grid through net metering.
Carnegie Mellon University estimates the technology could help reduce electricity demand by 5 per cent during the 100 most expensive hours of the year – typically times when the sun is most intense and temperatures the highest – which would save Pennsylvania ratepayers $1.9 billion annually. Electricity rates can be 15 to 30 times more during periods when demand is highest.
The Governor said these kinds of investments are important today because consumers who now find it difficult to pay for gasoline, diesel fuel, natural gas and heating oil will face greater financial hardship when the generation rate caps that have held electricity prices in check since the mid-1990s expire, leading to double-digit rate increases.
“Families are having to make the difficult decision of whether or not to stay in their homes because they can barely afford to fill up their gas tank or go to the grocery store where higher energy prices have pushed up the price of food,” said Governor Rendell. “Likewise, businesses are questioning whether or not to shut their doors because it costs so much to keep the lights on and the machines running.
“We’re putting new resources in place that will help consumers lower their energy use and generate their own power in a cleaner and increasingly more cost-effective manner.”
The Governor will also work throughout the summer to reach an agreement with the legislature on measures that will improve what he called the state’s flawed energy policies and protect consumers from the pending electricity rate spikes.