Sunday, September 27, 2009

Solar Powered Wine

From Friday's inbox:

State Rep. Steven J. Santarsiero, D-Bucks, and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger today held a news conference at Crossing Vineyards and Winery to underscore the need for clean-energy legislation currently in the state House, while promoting the benefits of adopting clean-energy practices.

"Two years ago, the winery embarked on a project to install solar panels that would help reduce energy costs and fossil fuel consumption," Santarsiero said. "The project will last for 30 years, saving 12.5 barrels of oil per year. For just one project, the energy savings implications are profound – the winery will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 8,600 pounds a year."

The winery aims to be completely off the electric grid in five or fewer years. Santarsiero said that, in doing so, it would be consistent with the goal of H.B. 80, which would increase Tier I requirements in Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards beginning in 2014 to 18 percent by 2024. Tier I requirements delineate the proportion of electricity that electric distribution companies must purchase from renewable sources such as wind and solar.

"With this energy-saving technology in place, one of many that businesses can explore, Crossing Vineyards produces more than enough energy for its operations, leaving any excess available for purchase by electric utilities," he said. "This mutually beneficial relationship is exactly what House Bill 80 would forge between alternative energy sources and utilities."

Additionally, Santarsiero successfully amended the bill to ensure that alternative energy tax credits would not be awarded to coal plants that do not use carbon dioxide capture and sequestration, or CCS. The bill also would add incentives for new and existing coal-fired power plants that conduct CCS, which would prevent the harmful gas from being released into the atmosphere.

Santarsiero urged homeowners and businesses to explore the energy- and cost-savings benefits from weatherization, solar, wind, geothermal and other energy projects. Information and tips are available on the Department of Environmental Protection's Web site at

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