Notice of Funding Availability - Rural Energy for America Program

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The United States Department of Agriculture recently issued a Notice of Funding Availability for the acceptance of applications under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for fiscal year 2012.  The program will make available $12.5 million in grant funds and $48.5 million in guaranteed loan funds in order to provide financial assistance as follows:

  • grants, guaranteed loans and combined grants and guaranteed loans for the development and construction of renewable energy systems and for energy efficiency improvement projects;
  • grants for conducting energy audits;
  • grants for conducting renewable energy development assistance; and
  • grants for conducting renewable energy system feasibility studies.

Depending on the project, applications are due as early as February 21, 2012.  Are you an agricultural producer or rural small business that is eligible for financing under this program?

Reminder to PA Residential Landlords - Security Deposits

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What are the requirements under the Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Act with respect to security deposits:

Deposits Required to be Placed in Escrow:  Pursuant to the Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Act, 68 P.S. 250.101 et seq. (the "Act"), all funds over $100 deposited with a landlord to secure the execution of a rental agreement on residential property shall be deposited in an escrow account of an institution regulated by the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, Comptroller of the Currency, or the Pennsylvania Department of Banking.  68 P.S. 250.511b(a).  When any funds are deposited in any escrow account, the landlord shall notify each of the tenants in writing, giving the name and address of the bank in which the deposits are held and the amount of such deposits.  Id. A landlord may, in lieu of depositing escrow funds, guarantee that any escrow funds, less cost of necessary repairs, including interest thereon, shall be returned to the tenant upon termination of the lease, or on surrender and acceptance of the leasehold premises.  Id. at 250.511c.  The guarantee of repayment of the escrow funds shall be secured by a good and sufficient guarantee bond issued by a bonding company authorized to do business in Pennsylvania.  Id. 

2. Amount of Deposit Permitted:  During the first year of a lease, no landlord may require a sum in excess of two months' rent to be deposited in escrow for the payment of damages to the leased premises and/or for default in rent .  I.d. at 250.511a(a).  During the second and subsequent years of the lease, or during any renewal, the amount required to be deposited may not exceed one months' rent.  Id. at 250.511a(b).  These provisions of the Act may not be modified by contract.  See id. at 250.511a(f).

3. Requirement to Return Deposits / Landlord Liability:  Every landlord shall, within 30 days of termination of a lease or upon surrender and acceptance of the leased premises, provide tenant with a list of any damages to the premises for which landlord claims tenant is liable, along with return of the escrow deposit, less the actual amount of damages to the premises.  Id. at 250.512(a).  However, the landlord is not precluded from refusing to return the escrow funds for nonpayment of rent or for breach of any other condition in the lease by tenant.  Id.  Any landlord who fails to provide a written list within 30 days forfeits all rights to withhold any portion of sums held in escrow or to bring suit against the tenant for damages to the premises.  Id. at 250.512(b).  If the landlord fails to pay the tenant the difference between the sum deposited in escrow and the actual damages to the premises caused by tenant within 30 days after termination or surrender and acceptance of the premises, the landlord shall be liable in assumpsit to double the amount by which the escrow funds, including any unpaid interest thereon, exceeds the amount of actual damages to the leased premises.  Id.  The burden of proof of actual damages caused by the tenant shall be on the landlord.  Id.  However, failure of the tenant to provide the landlord with his new address in writing upon termination of the lease or upon surrender and acceptance of the premises shall relieve the landlord from any liability under Section 250.512 of the Act.  Id. at 250.512(e).  


Draft Chesapeake Bay WIP Open for Comments

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently released Pennsylvania’s Draft Phase 2 Chesapeake Watershed Implementation Plan (draft Phase 2 WIP) as part of its mandated requirement to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.  Forty-three (43) counties in Pennsylvania contribute to the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The draft Phase 2 WIP was submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on December 15, 2011 – with formal notification appearing in the PA Bulletin – and outlines the state’s plan to address EPA’s expectations that the states develop a Phase 2 WIP so that local partners (1) are aware of the WIP strategies; (2) understand their contribution to meeting the TMDL allocations; and (3) have been provided with the opportunity to suggest any refinements to the WIP strategies.

The draft Phase 2 WIP was developed to meet EPA’s August 1, 2011 revised nutrient and sediment allocations for the TMDL. The allocations are the result of EPA’s development of a revised Watershed Model.   

According to EPA’s current watershed model, when compared to 1985, Pennsylvania has achieved 27% of the nitrogen reductions, 31% of the phosphorus reductions, and 50% of the total suspended sediment reductions needed to reach the 2025 restoration targets.  When compared to current 2010 progress reported by the watershed model, Pennsylvania still needs to achieve an additional 33.23 million pound reduction in nitrogen, 1.26 million pound reduction in phosphorus, and 524.4 million pound reduction in sediment by 2025 to aid in restoring water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.  Failure to meet pollutant contribution reductions in the Chesapeake Bay watershed may result in EPA tightening limits on permits and/or denying permits outright. 

 Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-Lancaster) hosted a briefing with EPA, DEP & other officials outlining the Commonwealth’s draft Phase 2 WIP (Watch video – click on each speaker name to hear their respective briefings.)

The Department is accepting comments from the public on the draft Phase 2 WIP until January 30, 2012.