by Pana Columbus
How New Jersey Is Switching to Renewable Energy and Why Pennsylvania Is Joining the Movement
Thanks to a state sponsored rebate program, New Jersey residents, businesses and industries are rapidly installing solar photovoltaics on their roofs and on ground arrays. New Jerseyans are shifting to renewable energy, not only for the obvious benefits to the environment and the equally obvious dangers of continuing our dependency on foreign oil, but also because it saves them money. Here’s how it works: The rebate covers 60-70% of the cost of the installations. The balance is paid off with an interest-free twenty-year loan, paid off monthly with installments that equal the cost of their normal utility bill, minus 10%.
Pennsylvania is catching on to the wisdom and necessity of shifting to renewable energy. In November 2004, the State Legislature passed a bill called the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard which requires that 8% of the energy in the state has to be generated by renewable sources. A percentage of that has to be generated by solar. Why is Pennsylvania ready to shift to renewable energy? Because not only is it the healthiest, most sustainable, and most environmentally friendly choice, but because shifting to renewable energy will create jobs, spur economic development and lower utility bills. Just read this excerpt from a PA study released in 2004:
According to a report commissioned by the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies in partnership with Heinz Endowments, a clean energy portfolio standard would create as many as 3,500 jobs, generate an additional $7 billion in economic activity in Pennsylvania and save consumers at least $140 million in annual fuel costs over the next 20 years, compared to developing conventional resources over the same period of time.
I’m looking forward to seeing more and more solar panels and wind farms as I go about the Lehigh Valley. The use of renewable energy is the most tangible evidence I can imagine of a community that cares about world peace, health, national security, and love for this extraordinary planet we call home.
By Pana Columbus
Pana is the Artistic Director for the Circle of Stones Ritual Theatre Ensemble