Interfaith trailblazers walk 100 miles for green jobs
Carrying their own brilliant yellow sun, about a dozen walkers are making their way through Montgomery County this week, on a trek for a new energy future. Ranging from millennials to a 79 year-old great grandpa, they will be joined by local congregations calling for solar job growth in the area.
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 Walkers rallied at the County Courthouse in Norristown on Monday morning, and may be spotted on the road to Plymouth Meeting and Glenside. They will loop through Bucks County before heading to PECO headquarters in Philadelphia on May 22 for a large action including national environmental justice activists Bill McKibben and Bishop Dwayne Royster.
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 growth and remains a major driver of air pollution and climate change.
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.