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Company offering Pa.-wind-powered electricity

By , - Last modified: December 4, 2012 at 9:34 AM

As advocacy groups push for the renewal of federal tax incentives for wind energy, a Herndon, Va.-based company announced last week it is offering electricity produced solely from Pennsylvania wind farms to midstate business and residential customers.

Washington Gas Energy Services last week unveiled WGES PA WindPower, a program offering electricity that is either 50 percent or 100 percent generated by wind farms in Pennsylvania.

It is available to customers served by the Metropolitan Edison Co. and PPL Electric Utilities Corp., the two main electricity distribution utilities that serve the midstate, as well as PECO Energy Co. and Penelec, WGES said.

The company is offering introductory residential rates that are lower than PECO's standard rate for conventionally produced power. Generally, energy from green sources fetches a premium at retail.

"Competitive rates are available for business customers as well," the company said. Electricity suppliers tend to tailor business rates to individual clients' needs, making it difficult to make categorical statements about pricing.

The power initially will come from Lookout Wind Farm in Somerset County, which is capable of producing 37.8 megawatts of power, enough for 38,000 homes, WGES said.

"WGES PA WindPower supports the Pennsylvania economy and improves local air quality," company President Harry Warren said in a statement.

The company also said it is joining ChoosePAWind, a coalition of industry and environmental groups devoted to promoting wind power in the commonwealth.

Meanwhile, wind power advocates are stepping up their calls for renewal of the federal renewable electricity production tax credit and the offshore wind investment tax credit. Both are set to expire at the end of this month.

If Pennsylvania continues to build wind capacity at its current pace, it can reduce pollution by the equivalent of taking 185,000 cars off the road and would save enough water to supply 17,400 people, the environmental group PennEnvironment said in a study it released last week, "Wind Power for a Cleaner America."

The state ranks No. 17 in wind power, producing more than 1.9 million megawatt-hours per year, PennEnvironment said. More capacity is planned.

"We still have enormous untapped potential," PennEnvironment Executive Director David Masur said at a news conference Wednesday introducing the report.

This morning at 11, several advocacy groups will convene outside the Lancaster office of U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts to protest his opposition to the production tax credit. Pitts, a Republican and chairman of the House Energy Committee, is the sole congressional representative from Pennsylvania to call for ending the incentive, the groups said.

In a statement provided by Pitts’ office, the congressman said: “I believe in wind energy. After 20 years of taxpayer subsidies, wind energy is prepared to compete on its own. Even wind’s strongest supporters say the industry is poised to compete with fossil fuels.”

Editor's Note: This item was modified from its previous version to add a statement from U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts.

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