Harkins, Policy Committee explore renewable energy in PA

ERIE, March 8 – The importance and benefits of biodiesel fuels, wind power and solar power in the state’s renewable energy portfolio was a key feature of today’s House Democratic Policy Committee hearing at SB3, requested by state Rep. Patrick Harkins.

Harkins, D-Erie, asked for the hearing as a means for the public and legislators to gather insight on how to smoothly manage integration of renewables into the energy mix, while maximizing the burgeoning industry’s job-creation potential.

“One thing that’s certain regarding our energy future is that demand is going to continue growing, which means there’s room at the power-generation table for long-established sources, as well as relatively new ones,” Harkins said. “We must make sure that the Erie area, as well as the state, does not miss out on any opportunity that could have a positive economic impact.”

State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, the Policy Committee chairman who co-chaired the public hearing with Harkins, said the gathered testimony will be valuable in crafting meaningful state legislation.

“Representative Harkins hosted a great hearing on how we can better utilize renewable energy sources,” Sturla said. “Renewable energy sources have the potential to create jobs and are less of a burden on our environment. Hearing from industry experts provided a greater understanding of how we can move forward to support these efforts.”

Panelists included two officials from HERO BX, which operates a biodiesel facility in Erie capable of 45 million gallons of annual production: John Nies, vice president of operations, and Christopher Peterson, vice president of finance and commodity risk.

Other panelists were John Rossi, executive board member of Sierra Club Lake Erie Group; John Pruvis, president of Solar Revolution Erie, which has 20 years of experience in that field; and Joy Knapp, regional outreach coordinator, Clean Air Council.

Copies of their testimony are available at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee.