This past Monday, I had the opportunity to see firsthand the positive influence of clean energy jobs in Pennsylvania. Visiting the Exelon-Conergy Solar Energy Center, I toured one of the largest solar electricity generation plants in the country. I am pleased that this company chose to locate in Bucks County, and I am hopeful that more companies will follow this example.
Exelon-Conergy Solar Energy Center, located on a tract of land adjacent to Waste Management's GROWS landfill, can produce enough energy to power 500 homes in Pennsylvania. Clean energy jobs are not a hazy concept of the future -- in Bucks County, and across the Commonwealth, these jobs are already providing paychecks to American workers, re-energizing the manufacturing sector, and transforming the economy. I will continue to support clean energy job creation in the Senate to ensure that many more Pennsylvanians have the same opportunity.
Earlier this month, I received news that Harley may consider relocating its York, PA plant. At this time, I told Keith Wandell, the CEO of Harley-Davidson, that I would work with him and the employees at the York plant to keep Harley in business in PA. As part of my on-going effort to keep Harley jobs in PA, earlier today I introduced the Green Transportation Efficiency Act (GreenTEA) of 2009. GreenTEA gives American consumers vouchers to encourage them to trade in their older, less fuel efficient vehicles for new, more fuel-efficient vehicles, including motorcycles. Motorcycles are inherently fuel efficient, averaging 40-50 miles per gallon, even higher for smaller bikes. Harley-Davidson, like the auto makers and other manufacturing sectors, is fighting hard to maintain its workforce and to continue to produce a high quality, American-made product during these tough economic times. GreenTEA will help stimulate consumer demand for this great American brand. In addition to stimulating the economy, GreenTEA will help achieve the dual goals of reducing our demand for imported oil and reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases.
Now that Congress has entered its April recess, I am busy traveling all over Pennsylvania. It has been a great opportunity for me to visit with Pennsylvanians in their own communities. Here’s an update on some of my travels through Pennsylvania so far:
Pennsylvania Highlands Community College in Johnstown: I had the opportunity to meet with Pennsylvania Highlands Community College (PHCC) President Dr. Walter Asonevich to talk about the college’s program to offer tuition-free classes for workers who have recently lost their jobs. This program, which has started at other Pennsylvania community colleges, gives workers a chance to upgrade their skills so they can compete for better jobs. I was so impressed with this program that I introduced a bill to help other community colleges start their own programs for dislocated workers. I also met with other representatives from PHCC and had a chance to talk with students currently enrolled in PHCC’s tuition assistance program.
NETL in Pittsburgh: Also during my trip to Southwestern Pennsylvania, I took a tour of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Pittsburgh. I learned more about NETL’s work on emerging energy technologies, including carbon capture and storage and other clean coal approaches. I am very excited that Pennsylvania is leading the way in this important area of energy research and development. Before going into recess, I was pleased that the U.S. Senate passed the amendment I introduced to help accelerate research and development of carbon capture and storage technology, and it was wonderful to see firsthand the work that NETL is doing in that area. NETL’s work puts southwestern Pennsylvania at the forefront of efforts to produce breakthroughs that will reduce carbon emission from existing coal-fired power plants and create jobs and business opportunities for a new generation of energy technology that can be sold throughout the world.
North Broad Street Project in Philadelphia: I was honored to join Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter in announcing $475,000 in federal funding for the City of Philadelphia’s North Broad Street Project. This project is an investment in the economic development along the North Broad Street corridor above Philadelphia’s historic City Hall. We expect this investment to help spur new development that will generate new jobs and continue the revitalization of North Broad Street.