For solar jobs, these interfaith walkers will go 100 miles
Carrying their own brilliant yellow sun, about a dozen walkers will gather outside Croydon Generating Station at 9:00 am on Friday, May 19. They say that installing solar on area homes, schools, and churches will produce more local jobs than the oil-fired plant, and PECO should purchase more of its electricity locally.
Croydon is the last stop in Bucks County as the interfaith group make their way through PECO’s service territory, on a trek for a new energy future. They are making a 100 mile circle through 5 counties, visiting sites that could benefit from generating local electricity and jobs.
PECO, the largest utility in PA, sells only the state minimum of solar power, a mere 0.25%. The Power Local Green Jobs campaign hopes to change that. They are calling for 20% local solar by 2025, to create thousands of jobs by prioritizing areas where workers and job-seekers have been left behind.
Solar produces more jobs per dollar than any other electricity source. Nationally, the industry already employs more Americans than coal and natural gas combined, but not in PA. The state ranks a dismal 43rd in solar jobs per capita.
“I’ve met workers who are cut out of our local economy. I’ve seen kids who can’t run because of asthma and dirty air, and I know that climate change threatens my future. PECO needs to think about what kind of future we can build here, and start in the areas where families are struggling the most,” said Sam Shain, a 25-year-old who is walking the first 50 miles with the green jobs campaign.
The walk set out two weeks ago from Morris Chapel Baptist Church, a North Philly congregation planning to save money by installing solar panels-- and train local youth in the process. Another stop was at Centennial Parkside CDC, a community development corporation launching two solar projects to generate revenue for affordable housing and neighborhood improvement. They have also visited schools, libraries, and arts non-profits who could see major savings by slashing electricity bills.
On Monday, May 22 the walk completes 100 miles at PECO headquarters in Philadelphia. After over a year of pressure, PECO is starting to pay attention. The utility has floated concepts such as soliciting customer donations for solar projects. However, PECO has resisted committing to solar job growth.
Power Local Green Jobs is a faith-based economic justice campaign led by Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) and Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild (POWER). Begun in 2015, the campaign uses nonviolent direct action to pressure PECO, the largest utility in PA, to spur job growth through solar expansion in areas with high unemployment. Learn more at www.eqat.org and www.powerinterfaith.org.