Peco Bill Relief Plan Rejected by PUC: Better Options Available for People and Climate
On Thursday, August 6th the PA Public Utility Commission rejected PECO’s proposed bill relief plan in a 2-2 vote. In this time of sky-high unemployment in low-income communities, payment of utility bills has become an impossible burden for many residents. They are faced with the dilemma of trying to pay for electricity and gas with money they don’t have vs. watching their arrearages mount into the hundreds and thousands of dollars and threatening future shut-offs.
PECO’s offering of a $50 bill credit along with the lessening of standards for enrollment in low-income programs was not a serious response to this crisis and is consistent with PECO’s history of not taking threats to safety and well-being seriously, according to Dana Robinson, an Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) volunteer.
Since 2015 EQAT has been pressing PECO to dramatically increase the amount of solar-generated electricity it distributes as a response to climate change and unemployment, and is currently calling on PECO to assist ratepayers in crisis. “This continues a pattern of PECO suggesting quarter-measures when more robust action is needed. For a corporation that nets more than $400 million each year in profits, which it then sends to its parent corporation, Exelon, in Chicago, to not offer some form of bill forgiveness during these extraordinary times is unacceptable. It shows a lack of concern for the ratepayers who pay their salaries and shareholder dividends.”
Solar-generated electricity currently represents less than 1% of the electricity PECO sells through its “Default Service Program” (DSP), which the company has submitted to the PUC for approval. Two thirds of residential customers use the DSP.
EQAT and POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Power and Rebuild) are calling on PECO to:
- Forgive the utility bills of our most vulnerable neighbors
- Continue the moratorium on service shutoffs
- Resubmit its DSP to show to show a commitment to solar by August 18th
- Create a real plan for getting 20% of the regions energy from local solar by 2025 in a way that prioritizes access to solar ownership and jobs for low income, black and brown communities
Adopting these priorities would benefit southeast Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents in both the short- and long-term. Already more likely to experience the negative effects of climate change—residing in flood prone areas, lacking access to air conditioning, living with illnesses exacerbated by heat, etc.—these vulnerable residents now have to cope with a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted (through job loss, illness, and death) low income communities and communities of color.
“We have to look out for vulnerable neighbors now and into the future,” says Robinson, “and it’s time for PECO to join us in that pursuit.”
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.