The last action I took part of with EQAT was in the summer of 2014, when, as a highschooler, I had the opportunity to engage in Quaker worship in the lobby of the PNC Headquarters. I remember how powerful that experience was and how at ease I felt. Particularly, I felt safe knowing that I did not have to engage in dialogue with any media, police, or security guards; there were trained individuals who held those responsibilities.
The result of the 2016 presidential election has spurred many people to step beyond their old definition of “good citizen” to become active for change. This presents a challenge: how can movements provide more volunteer opportunities to do meaningful, empowering work, and how can the newly active gain the skills they need?
On January 19th, I made the decision to crawl out of my warm bed at 6 o'clock in the morning, and make my way onto the cold city streets. Once there, I met with some people who were actively trying to make a difference in this world. Before this day, I never thought I'd be right alongside them, being the change I wanted to see.
On Tuesday evening about 45 EQATers gathered at PECO for our first action since the Runaround in October. We came with the intention to honor the time of year, the things we are feeling, and our resolution to hold PECO accountable to Power Local Green Jobs. For the first time, there was a large police presence there greeting us, approximately 15 bicycle cops and several civil affairs officers. It's clear that PECO was either expecting us, or particularly nervous about our action. So it was with some sense of audience and soberness that Reverend Rhetta invited us all to breathe together in the lobby to begin the action.
On November 13th, I left Philadelphia to travel to Standing Rock for a week to support the water protectors, an experience I'm still reflecting on. Early last week, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that they would deny Energy Transfer Partners the needed permit to build a portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This decision has at least temporarily halted construction, while the Army Corps completes an Environmental Impact Assessment. The struggle is far from over, and indigenous media resources continue to be the best sources for current information. Right now, I want to reflect on what this moment means for EQAT and our supporters.
“Zoom!” went the kids on scooters!
“Whoosh!” went the jogging team!
“Tap, tap, tap!” went Nelson’s wooden stilt legs!
“Scuff, step, giggle!” went the hundred+ walkers!
“One, five, ninety nine!” went the registration and fundraising team.
Last week, Pennsylvania’s largest utility, PECO, floated some possible pilot projects to increase solar in its service area over the coming years. If all are enacted, the projects, could double the amount of solar energy PECO delivers. So why are green jobs activists, like myself, planning to do laps around the utility’s Philadelphia headquarters in a protest called the PECO Runaround?
Read the whole article on Huffington Post.
PECO has delayed and pushed back on solar for years, despite all the economic benefits clean energy offers. Here are just a few recent examples.
Lynn and James
Today they showed up to install our transformer that will allow the solar interconnection. But lo and behold, they couldn't install it because the pole is too small. Evidently nobody actually came here to inspect the site before issuing the work order. So now a different department has to schedule the pole replacement and then reschedule the transformer installation. No idea when that will happen!
Update: On Sept 21, 2016, at the solar collaborative initiated as a response to this campaign, PECO announced it would change this requirement in the next year! After replacing every meter in its service area a couple years ago, the company finally admits it needs to prepare for solar.
Rob, Solar Electrician
PECO is only utility in the state, perhaps in the country, that requires a second meter to install solar. They did a big expensive "smart" meter upgrade a few years ago for the meters to be remote-readable, but these meters aren't smart enough to handle on-site electricity generation. This was an expensive, wasted opportunity. PECO needs to have an exception from regulations to require this second meter, which is often ridiculous to install. I wish I’d taken videos at some of the jobs I’ve done, to show how hard it is to put in.