Penn State could be an integral part of new state energy efficiency legislation and economic growth in the area, two state representatives said Friday during a visit to University Park.
"Penn State is the leading energy-conservation university in the state," said state Rep. Stan Saylor, R-York. "We're here to see what part it should play in research and job creation."
Saylor, chairman of the House Republican Energy Task Force, and Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, took a tour of Penn State's energy and research facilities to see what projects were already in progress and to determine what policies to propose concerning environmental issues, Saylor said.
These policies would center heavily on Penn State energy research involvement, Benninghoff said, and some policies could result in tax deductions and other benefits for citizens and businesses that implement energy efficiency measures.
"Our task force is not the only answer," Benninghoff said. "Penn State is the crown jewel in that equation."
Additional state money would be provided to Penn State to facilitate research, Saylor added.
The tour included visits to the EMS Energy Institute, Breazeale Nuclear Reactor, professor of environmental engineering Bruce Logan's microbial fuel cell lab, and the cellulosic bioconversion lab, said Tom Richard, director of Penn State Institutes for Energy and the Environment.
"There was a good deal of interest in clean coal technology, the nuclear engineering program and various types of bioenergy research," Richard said. "There was also strong interest in how well Penn State is working with industry to implement our discoveries in real-world applications."
Another point of interest was how the university could attract energy companies, Saylor said.
"There's a shortage of engineers in Pennsylvania," Saylor said. "We'd like to see more engineering students graduate. One of our policies would be to offer loan forgiveness for graduate students who stay in Pennsylvania."
Funding research is an important factor in spurring economic growth, as businesses and economic developers are attracted to locations where states are investing in energy research and demonstration programs, Richard said.