Today Gov. Tom Wolf stopped in Bucks County touting his plan to boost funding for green energy.
Wolf said providing more incentives to consumers to stoke demand for things like solar panels needs to happen in conjunction with supporting technical training. Together, he thinks, Pennsylvania’s green economy can generate more manufacturing jobs.
Wolf was showed around a training center at Bucks County Community College in Bristol, where students are learn technical skills, such as how circuits work and how to operate welding machines.
Wolf has pledged $1 million to the school in his proposed budget as part of the $15 million he’s pushing in additional funding to community colleges. In Bristol, some of that money would help more students enter industrial training programs. Once completed, student could move to jobs working for solar panel or wind turbine manufacturers or installers.
That’s focusing on the supply side. On the demand side, he also has an idea.
“Sometimes it’s tax credits, sometimes it’s low interest loans, sometimes It’s a grant,” Wolfe told reporters after the training center tour. “Whatever it is, the idea should be not to create this permanent addiction to government largess. What we’re trying to do here is build a bridge to the future.”
Wolf would like to revive a lapsed rebate program for homeowners and businesses to invest in solar, an industry that hasn’t keep pace with Pennsylvania’s booming shale gas sector.
He also wants to use new taxes on the gas industry to support renewable energy projects using solar and wind technology.
To be sure, gas energy lobbyists and Republicans state lawmakers question the wisdom of subsidizing one energy industry to help out competitor.
Winning support in the Republican-dominated assembly is going to be a hard win as leaders begin discussions around passing a new budget for the state.