When you think of the many things our state is famous for, energy production may not be at the top of the list; however, Pennsylvania ranks third in the nation for total energy production.
Thanks to our abundant natural resources and vast infrastructure we are an energy-producing powerhouse and have been for hundreds of years.
Pennsylvania first rose to the top of energy production due to our prosperous timber industry and plentiful coal reserves.
Then in 1859, we became home to the first commercial oil well in the United States with the Drake Well in northwestern Pennsylvania.
We are fortunate to have such a diverse energy background. To celebrate our energy industry, I wrote a House resolution recognizing October as Energy Awareness Month.
October has been recognized as Energy Awareness Month across the United States since 1991, when it was first declared by President George H.W. Bush.
On a national scale, the Keystone State is a fierce energy competitor.
In fact, Pennsylvania is the second largest natural gas producer in the United States, the third largest coal-producing state, and second in electricity generation from nuclear power.
Newer, alternative energy production has also taken root in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s first commercial wind farm started generating electricity in 2000, and the commonwealth currently has 24 operating wind farms with approximately 1,400 megawatts of capacity.
Also, according to the Solar Energies Association, Pennsylvania is one of the largest solar employers in the nation, with 527 solar businesses, employing 3,061 individuals.
This type of diversification is important. It means we are not solely reliant on any one single energy source to serve our energy needs. It also means we are relevant on a national and global scale when it comes to energy production and technology.
The energy industry is also advantageous from an employment perspective. With so many types of energy sectors, we have a strong employment market for a vast array of skills.
These industries also help foster growth in other businesses that rely on the energy produced from these sources. We have seen that most recently in the natural gas industry.
With the boom several years ago, we also saw an increase in the housing market for employees and more manufacturing and trucking jobs to support the production and delivery of natural gas.
As we observe Energy Awareness Month, it encourages me to continue my mission to make Pennsylvania a more business-friendly state so we can attract more companies and create even more jobs that will enhance our economy and improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.
Editor’s note: State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, a Republican, represents the 134th Legislative District, which includes Alburtis, Lower Macungie Township, Macungie, Salisbury Township (Wards 4 and 5) and South Whitehall (Districts 3 and 4) in Lehigh County; and Hereford, Longswamp, Richmond and Rockland townships, and Topton borough in Berks County.