Prayer Vigil at the Pennsylvania PUC Spotlights Climate Crisis and Need for a Local Solar Energy Transition
HARRISBURG - Today activists gathered at the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to pray for prompt action to reduce the use of fossil fuels for electricity and accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources, particularly solar. Since 2015, activists from the Southeastern Pennsylvania-based Power Local Green Jobs campaign have been pressing their utility (PECO) to lead the way in transitioning away from electricity generated by fossil fuels. The Campaign is demanding that PECO buy at least 20% of its electricity from local solar projects by 2025, in a way that prioritizes community-ownership of solar panels and local green jobs creation in PECO’s territory.
Next month, PECO will submit its Default Service Program (DSP) to the PUC, which will show how it plans to buy its electricity over the next two to four years. The PUC has until December 2020 to approve PECO’s plan but is also required to consider what’s in the best interest of ratepayers. It thus can play a major role in holding utilities like PECO accountable to the true cost of fossil fuel pollution. Power Local Green Jobs activists believe that reduced greenhouse gas emissions, less global warming, cleaner air, and economic vitality in low-income neighborhoods are common goods the PUC must consider when reviewing PECO’s DSP.
According to Tab Skervin, Campaign Director of the Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), “The stakes are too high for the PUC to continue to allow PECO to get so much of its electricity from burning fossil fuels, and so little from solar power. Pennsylvania faces a looming climate crisis caused by the pollution of those fossil fuels, especially dangerous air pollution. We also have an opportunity to create thousands of local well-paying green jobs if PECO truly invested in a local solar energy transition,” Tab said. “Let’s be a true commonwealth, dedicated to protecting the common good for all of us. We call on the PUC to prioritize the interest of PECO’s ratepayers, not its executives. PUC commissioners should not approve any DSP that allows PECO to continue to neglect the social and economic costs of fossil fuels.”
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.powerinterfaith.org and www.eqat.org.