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Rendell to Lawmakers: 'Energize' Stalled Conservation Legislation

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 By Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - PA, Contact
May 13, 2008

Harrisburg, PA - Governor Rendell says he plans to give a little "spark" to energy legislation that is stalled in the General Assembly. One of the bills, HB 2200, has been stuck since passing the House in February.

Today, with utility rates heading higher due to restructuring, Jeff Schmidt of the Pennsylvania Sierra Club explains why the bill is needed: It could help reduce the overall impact of energy production - both on the wallets of Pennsylvanians and on the environment - by requiring utilities to put programs in place to help consumers save power.

"This is not only good for consumers, because it saves them money; it also cuts down on pollution, on the need for new power plants and on the emission of global warming gases."

The bill doesn't specify the conservation measures utilities must take, but Schmidt says possible options include hiring energy auditors to suggest ways that individual businesses and consumers can save, or providing customers with compact fluorescent light bulbs at no cost. It also includes a "smart meter" provision, new technology that would allow utility customers to know the times of day that electric rates are higher, to enable them to use less energy during those peak usage hours.

"Smart meters would allow you to set your meters to turn down your air conditioner, or start the dryer after the peak period is over, so that you're not paying a premium price."

Pennsylvania is among the states leading the nation in emitting global warming gases, mostly from coal-fired power plants. Schmidt believes cutting back on coal use will be key to preserving the Keystone State's environment and quality of life.

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