Monday, July 28, 2014

DCNR Announces Public-Private Partnership To Preserve Lighthouse At Presque Isle

Lt. Governor Jim Cawley Monday joined Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti in announcing the department and the newly created Presque Isle Light Station organization have reached an agreement for a public/private effort to renovate and eventually open to the public the historic lighthouse at Presque Isle State Park in Erie.
DCNR owns the lighthouse and land, which for 141 years has been used as a residence, most recently for state park staff.
The department is entering a 35-year-lease with the non-profit organization, which will then raise funds for restoration work, with the goal being opening the lighthouse to the public.
“This is a great partnership between government and non-profit organizations to continue to improve and expand the resources and services that the Commonwealth provides to its citizens, and ensure that visitors understand the history as well as enjoy the beauty of Presque Isle State Park,” Cawley said at an event at the lighthouse today.
The Presque Isle Lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse on Lake Erie’s shore. The lighthouse was built in the 1800s and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Climbing the 78 steps in the tower provides a nice view of Lake Erie.
“Our relationship with the Presque Isle Partnership and the Presque Isle Advisory Committee leading to the creation of the Presque Isle Light Station organization is a true success story, as together, we have been able to accomplish many projects at the park,” said Ferretti. “This endeavor will be another shining star on that list of accomplishments.”
The lighthouse was conveyed to the Commonwealth on June 10, 1998, by the federal government, but it continues to flash a white light that is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.
“We have all come together and are working as partners to develop a plan to make this concept a reality,” said Presque Isle Partnership President Alana Handman.
The tower and lighthouse will be available to the public on a more regular schedule once further renovations and public access plans are completed. The primary phase of reconstruction involves refurbishing the garage into a visitor gift shop.
The Presque Isle Partnership, in cooperation with the newly created Presque Isle Light Station organization, is beginning plans for overall lighthouse restoration to resemble the architectural style of its early 20th century foundation.
“It is a rare occurrence when the pulse of a community is captured in the essence of a building or a home, but the Presque Isle Lighthouse is such a landmark,” said Presque Isle Light Station Board President Joe Pfadt. “Since 1872, the Presque Isle Light Station has guided sea going vessels off the shores of Lake Erie for safe passage into the harbor, and now it is once again guiding us to a future of community service.”
“Similar to the private spending being done by tremendous partners on this project, resolving our pension crisis would free up additional funds to spend on the important work of state government,” Cawley said. “The state’s current pension crisis consumes 60 cents of every dollar in general fund revenue, and its time the General Assembly address this issue.”
The mission of the Presque Isle Partnership is to enhance the Presque Isle visitor’s experience by developing, funding, and implementing projects and programs on Presque Isle State Park while protecting the natural environment.
For information, visit the Presque Isle Partnership website.

PUC Reminds Consumers Of Electric Choice Standard Offer Program Savings

The Public Utility Commission Monday reminded consumers saving money on electricity can be as simple as enrolling in the Commission’s Electric Choice Standard Offer Program. The program was recognized last week by Gov. Tom Corbett as the year’s “Best Customer Service Innovation” at the 2014 Innovation Expo.
“The Standard Offer Program provides a voluntary, innovative approach to introducing non-shopping customers to the competitive marketplace,” said PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson, who led the Innovation Expo presentation on the program before a panel of judges July 22. “In our view, the Standard Offer Program is a ‘win-win-win’ for electric consumers, competitive suppliers and the Commonwealth. This is why more than 200,000 electric customers in Pennsylvania have found the Standard Offer to be anything but standard.”
The program was launched in August 2013 to offer non-shopping electric customers a simple way to enter the competitive market with guaranteed, immediate savings. The launch of the Standard Offer Program is projected to have saved Pennsylvania residential and small-business customers nearly $19 million in annual savings since its inception.
The Standard Offer Program is geared toward customers who are utilizing their default supply – or paying their utility for electric generation, rather than a competitive supplier. Customers receive a 7 percent discount off the utility’s generation rate, or price to compare, at the time of enrollment, for 12 months at a fixed rate.
The agreement includes no enrollment or cancellation fees, so customers can switch or cancel at any time without penalty.
To take advantage of the Standard Offer Program, customers can call their utility and ask about the plan. The utility will explain the offer and transfer the customer to one of its participating suppliers, randomly chosen, who will help enroll the customer in the program.
The choice of supplier makes no difference in electric service or contract terms. The utility will still distribute the electricity to the customer’s home, restore outages and send monthly bills.
The PUC’s Office of Competitive Market Oversight (OCMO) implemented the Standard Offer Program as a follow-up to the 2012 Retail Markets Investigation, which required electric utilities to implement a standard offer for non-shopping customers. A group of key OCMO members representing several key Commission bureaus worked with the utilities on call-center scripts in order to set the program in motion.
More than 2.1 million customers have switched to a competitive supplier for their generation supply in the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania is ranked second in the nation for its competitive electric market and number of shopping customers, according to the 2014 Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States.
The Commonwealth is ranked only behind Texas, which requires its customers to shop – eliminating the option for customers to remain with a default utility for their generation supply.
“From a PUC perspective, the Standard Offer Program has brought innovation and stimulated Pennsylvania’s robust competitive markets, producing extraordinary levels of participation in a very condensed timeframe – and providing stability to customers who were hesitant to enter the market during turbulent times with the run-up in variable rate prices,” Chairman Powelson said.
For more information, visit the PUC’s Electric Choice Standard Offer Program webpage.

PA Earns International Recognition For Strategies To Attract New Energy Investments

Gov. Tom Corbett Monday announced the Foreign Direct Investment Association named Pennsylvania the 2014 FDI Destination of the Future for Energy Intensive Industries for actively implementing strategies to support foreign direct investment in the energy sector.   
“Thanks to our diverse energy portfolio that is lowering energy costs and creating new jobs, Pennsylvania is leading an American energy revolution,” said Corbett. “New manufacturers are arriving and building plants. Companies are expanding and branching out to the energy supply chain, and engineering and environmental firms are growing and hiring.”
Pennsylvania received recognition for the governor’s Energy= Jobs Plan, the commonwealth’s first statewide energy plan. Corbett strategically outlines core concepts for leveraging Pennsylvania’s vast energy resources to further reduce energy costs and spur investment, industry development and job creation.
“There are more than 200,000 people working in jobs either created or made more secure by Pennsylvania’s energy industry,” said Corbett.
Today, Pennsylvania is second for electricity generation and nuclear production, fourth for coal production and is now the second largest producer of natural gas in the U.S. Pennsylvania is now a net exporter of energy, electricity and natural gas.
Pennsylvania’s abundant and low-cost energy resources have resulted in a significant increase to the local economy through hospitality and service professions and a reduction in home heating and electricity cost.
The FDI Association presented its second annual Foreign Direct Investment Awards at the World Forum for FDI 2014 held in Philadelphia. Nominations from around the world were accepted and evaluated during the month of May by a panel of distinguished global site consultants.
The first time the international event was held in North America, The World Forum brought together representatives from 36 countries including site selection, trade and investment agencies, economic development organizations and corporations that are expanding from around the world.

July Catalyst Newsletter Available From Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition

The July edition of The Catalyst newsletter is now available from the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition which features an article on the 16th Annual PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference in June.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

July 28 PA Environment Digest Now Available

July 28 PA Environment Digest is now available.  Click Here to print entire Digest.

Audit: Rapid Shale Gas Development Outpaced DEP’s Ability To Oversee Drilling
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale Tuesday said an audit shows the meteoric growth of the shale gas industry since 2003 caught the Department of Environmental Protection unprepared to effectively administer laws and regulations to protect drinking water and unable to efficiently respond to citizen complaints.

DEP: Auditor General Report Focuses On Recordkeeping, Water Kept Safe
The Auditor General's Office Tuesday released the Special Audit of DEP's Performance in Monitoring Potential Impact to Water Quality from Shale Gas Development for the period 2009 through 2012, finding no instances where DEP failed to protect public health, safety or the environment with respect to unconventional gas drilling activities.

Post-Gazette: 209 Water Supplies Damaged By Drilling Since Late 2007
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported information from the Department of Environmental Protection Tuesday which shows 209 water supplies were affected by drilling since the end of 2007.

2014 Ohio River Watershed Celebration Sept. 18 At North Park, Allegheny County
The 2014 Ohio River Watershed Celebration will be held on September 18 at North Park, Allegheny County.  This year’s theme is-- Connected Through Our Streams, The Pine Creek Experience.

Paddle Without Pollution Wins National Green Paddle For Conservation Award
Paddle Without Pollution in Pittsburgh Tuesday announced it is the 2014 recipient of the prestigious ACA Green Paddle for Waterway Conservation Award.

PennVEST Invests $81.5 Million In Water Infrastructure Projects In 11 Counties
Gov. Tom Corbett Tuesday announced the investment of $81.5 million in 14 non-point source, drinking water and wastewater projects across 11 counties through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority.

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