PECO solar plans weak on jobs, justice
PHILADELPHIA - Today, in response to a year-long campaign spearheaded by Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) and Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild (POWER), PECO announced a draft plan which advocates had hoped would create thousands of local solar jobs. Heartened by PECO taking a first step, the Power Local Green Jobs Campaign called for solar on a greater scale and a commitment to economic justice.
Far from being visionary, PECO’s plans are big on hype and little on change. “It’s like laying down a couple decorative tiles on the kitchen floor with out fixing the foundation” said Micah Gold-Markel, founder of Solar States, a Philadelphia solar installation business.
The Power Local Green Jobs Campaign noted that PECO’s plans result in little reduction of PECO’s overall carbon and methane emissions with only minimal, short-term jobs impact. Further, the proposals make low-income residents jump through hoops, rather than simply making solar available to all, and are primarily funded by ratepayers.
EQAT’s Board Chair Eileen Flanagan says, “For years PECO has thrown up roadblock after roadblock to solar. Now it presents plans that barely scratch the surface. This plan may not be too little, too late, but it certainly is very little and very late.”
EQAT and POWER reiterated that they are fighting for a moral energy economy, which will include:
- Thousands of high-quality jobs in renewable energy, prioritizing pathways to employment for those in our community who need jobs the most;
- Investment in local wealth generation for low-income communities, such as the opportunity for people to own energy producing solar panels themselves;
- Rapid movement toward 20% of PECO’s energy coming from solar by 2025 and away from fossil fuels, as a critical step towards building an inclusive economy for human life to thrive on this planet.
“To be a responsible corporate partner means joining the faith leaders and citizens of greater Philadelphia to end poverty in our region. The measure of PECO's good citizenship is rapid movement toward an economically-inclusive and environmentally-clean program. We will continue to hold PECO accountable to these true meanings of ‘responsible corporate partner,’” said Rabbi Julie Greenberg, leader of POWER’s Green Justice Team.
It is clear that PECO is implementing these programs in response to the pressure of the Power Local Green Jobs campaign, led by EQAT and POWER. These interfaith groups have committed to moving the utility to a moral and sustainable energy economy. Their next major action is planned for October 1.
Earth Quaker Action Team includes Quakers and people of diverse beliefs using nonviolent direct action to build a just and sustainable economy. EQAT (pronounced “equate”) won its first campaign in 2015, forcing PNC Bank to halt millions of dollars of financing to companies engaged in mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. Following that success, EQAT’s new campaign is pressuring local utility PECO to Power Local Green Jobs through solar expansion, particularly in North Philadelphia. www.eqat.org.
POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild) is an interfaith organization committed to implementing systemic change for the betterment of Pennsylvania. We represent over 60 congregations from across the Greater Philadelphia area, transcending borders of race, faith, income level, and neighborhood. Learn more at www.powerinterfaith.org.