Pennsylvania plans to invest $7.9 million in 21 alternative fuel projects, several to be powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), which could cut the state's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 14.5 million pounds, Gov. Ed Rendell said Tuesday.

The funding, issued through the state's Alternative Fuel Incentive Grant Program, are designed to spur innovation in Pennsylvania's advanced energy economy, while also making it easier for consumers and businesses to use home-grown biofuels and technologies such as CNG, hybrid and electric plug-in vehicles (EV).

The latest round of investments will be matched by $22.1 million in private funds for a total economic impact of $30 million, said the governor, who will leave office at the end of the year.

"Two weeks ago the Natural Resources Defense Council named Pennsylvania as the seventh least vulnerable state in the nation to oil price spikes because of our work to build a green economy here," said Rendell. "In doing so, it noted, 'America's addiction to oil continues to threaten not only our national security and global environmental health, but also our economic viability.'

"That's a very accurate assessment, and it's what we've been saying for the past eight years, which is why we've worked so hard to create a green energy economy here. That work has paid off, and today we have thousands of companies who are employing tens of thousands of workers in 'green collar' jobs. These projects will build upon that work and will transform the way we power our vehicles."

Chester County, PA-based Momentum Dynamics is among the 21 grant recipients and is to receive almost $587,000 to develop a technology to recharge EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles wirelessly. International Battery Inc., based in the Lehigh Valley, PA, was granted $235,000 to demonstrate the long-term performance and manufacturing viability of an advanced lithium battery pack suitable for hybrid electric and electric buses and commercial trucks.

The city of Philadelphia's Mayor's Office of Sustainability is to receive $140,000 for its $500,000 project to add 10 charging stations and 18 EVs and plug-in hybrids to existing car sharing operations. In addition, Giant Eagle Inc. was granted $750,000 to purchase 29 CNG and EV/plug-in vehicles, and to install 10 public EV charging stations -- the first of their kind in the state.

"These are exciting projects because they pave the way for consumers to adopt new environmentally friendly and money-saving technologies," said Rendell. "As more auto manufacturers introduce electric vehicles, these should be viewed as legitimate technologies."

The commonwealth has invested about $39 million in 114 projects through the program since 2004. These investments leveraged an additional $216 million in investments from other sources, according to the governor's office.

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