Wooing European companies to Pennsylvania

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Visitors to last month's wind energy exhibition in the German city of Hamburg were wooed by Kathleen A McGinty who gave an impassioned speech praising the European approach to wind power development. McGinty, head of Pennsylvania's environmental protection department, issued an open invitation to European companies to follow in the footsteps of Gamesa, GE Energy and Spanish utility Iberdrola and base some of their business in Pennsylvania. "Pennsylvania utilities must get 18% of their electricity from renewables -- we have just 160 MW of wind to date, and the law requires up to 4000 MW of wind energy to meet the portfolio requirement within 15 years," she said. The Pennsylvania energy development authority, which McGinty chairs, will allow tax free investment in clean energy of up to $1 billion a year. "After ten years of power prices being capped by law, this is now coming off so conventional energy is going to get much more expensive. You'll come into an attractive price environment," continued McGinty. "We understand that it's not enough just to put government mandates into place -- we also need to absorb risk to make the financial equation work." Illustrating her point, McGinty referred to a wind station in Pennsylvania where the state has stepped in to bridge the currency fluctuation risk between the euro and dollar, thus "assuming a key piece in the financial equation."

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