By Jim Wylie & Paula Kline, The Sylvanian, Winter 2019 Southeastern PA Sierra Club Newsletter, December 13, 2019
On October 19, 2019, Ready for 100/Chester County hosted a tour on the National Solar Tour. We visited 35 sites, covering the better part of the whole county, and welcomed over 200 participants at installed and operation examples of:
Rooftop residential solar systems
Battery storage systems
Large commercial solar operations – including a 1.1 MW array at a mushroom farm
Ground-source heat pumps
Air-source heat pumps (owner installed)
Net-zero, passive solar homes
Solar powered robotic lawnmowers
Renewable gas producing digesters
Home energy efficiency measures – including an in-progress blower door test by PECO Home Energy Assessments program
Electric vehicles and charging stations
And much more
The Chester County Clean Energy Tour of 2019 was the culmination of a vision by Paula Kline, Ready For 100/Chester County team leader. Paula committed to joining the national solar tour in the spring of 2019 and spent eight months lining up volunteers (about 15), endorsements from elected officials and energy related organizations and sponsors (commercial) and co-sponsors (env orgs). A huge undertaking that ultimately included four kickoff sites with hosts and presenters and visual materials that can be used for future renewable energy related events….
This year, T-Mobile announced new wind and solar purchases that will bring the company to 95 percent of its 100 percent clean energy goal. AT&T announced two new deals and stated that its clean energy usage is equal to removing 690,000 cars off the road each year. Sprint also announced its first clean energy project this year, which will provide 30 percent of the company’s energy.
But renewables were a mere 1 percent of Verizon’s total energy use in 2018. Since it hasn’t announced any new contracts, it doesn’t seem promising that Verizon will reach its goal anytime soon.…
Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) protested simultaneously at three PECO locations in Chester County: Phoenixville, Coatesville and Warminster early on Wednesday December 11. Protesters’ demands were simple “PECO, get a plan to combat climate change.”
About a hundred people divided over the three locations delivered the message by songs, banners, signs, and speeches.
PECO has been seriously lacking in its response to climate change by not purchasing nearly enough of its electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind. PECO is not thinking long term and climate change is already causing deadly droughts, floods, and other extreme weather. If we do not take immediate action, the results could be catastrophic.
At the same time, income inequality is reaching historic heights. Working class communities and communities of color are facing staggering levels of unemployment as businesses and the wealthy profit. We believe that there are better ways of doing business that reduce climate change and produce good jobs.
PECO must become part of the solution by increasing the purchases of locally produced sustainable energy.
We demand that PECO derive 20% of the total energy production from sustainable sources produced locally while prioritizing community-owned solar power, ownership by low-income communities in PECO’s service area, and installation by local workers paid livable wages, especially from high unemployment areas in its service area.
So far the response of PECO has been words but no action and we demand immediate action to get to the 20% sustainable power by 2025. Europe just signed their Green New Deal so it’s not like the rest of the world is not moving forward. It’s companies like PECO that need to get with the times and if it takes more protests, then we will up our protests to a level that PECO can not turn away from.
Since 2015 our campaign has grown with actions like the PECO Runaround where 100 runners, walkers, and wheelers circled company headquarters at the “PECO Runaround” (because PECO is giving Philadelphia the runaround on solar). The event raised $10,000 to Power Local Green Jobs.
We will not sit still until PECO comes up with a plan and executes that plan with tangible results.
See also Donna Rovins, “Group continues to push PECO on solar power, green jobs,” Daily Local News, 12/15/19
Will you march with us for 100% renewable energy on December 6th 5:30-9 p./m. in West Chester?
Maybe you are someone who started marching for the climate in DC on a bitter February (2013) or in NY at the People’s Climate Marches (April 2014 and 2017). Or maybe you joined the March for Science or the one in November 2015 before the Paris Climate talks.
Closer to home, you have an opportunity to bring our positive, solution focused message to thousands of residents in southeastern PA at the annual West Chester Christmas Parade on Friday December 6th!
This is one way we can support the Youth Climate movement which is calling for action on December 6th. As world leaders gather at the UN’s annual climate conference, young people across America will join a national #ClimateStrike to take the momentum from their September strike to elected officials’ doorsteps.
We’ve planned a great Clean Energy Contingent. We’ll have signs for each of the 25 communities that have passed resolutions EV cars dressed as reindeer “pulling” Santa’s sleigh (a red EV) a beautiful sun puppet wind turbines clean energy banners a banner for each of our county groups Come help us share the good news about renewable, clean energy by marching and proudly carrying a sign, poster or banner.
To learn more, register here, no later than November 20th
Important Upcoming date Dress rehearsal: Sunday November 24 2:00-4:00pm (Location to be determined; check calendar here)
As part of the environmental film series, the new documentary Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom will be shown THIS Thursday (11/6) at 6pm in the West Chester University Sykes theater. The documentary “tells the backstory of clean energy from innovation to installation”.
The film will focus on clean energy, but will also cover other themes such as job security, innovation, community benefits, workforce diversity, and much more. If you plan on attending the event, or if you would like to learn more about clean energy, let’s brush up on some fast facts about renewable energy!
Many people are worried about the cost of switching to clean energy – but actually, in many areas, renewable energy is cheaper than coal and fracked gas (Lazard). Also, the costs of wind and solar power are dropping rapidly.
Since 2009, the price of solar has dropped 85%, and the price of wind power is down 66% (CleanTechnica)
Solar power is now cheaper than the current cost of utility-provided electricity in 42 of our nation’s 50 biggest cities and in nearly half of all states
People also worry that converting to clean energy will take away jobs from workers in the coal and gas industries. However, there is a predicted 108% growth in wind turbine technician jobs from 2014 to 2024, the largest growth rate of any occupation in the country and double the rate of the second fastest-growing job (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Not only does clean energy create jobs, clean energy jobs can be created anywhere!
A major reason we should convert to clean energy is because fossil fuels pollute our air and water. Large populations of people are impacted by pollution due to fossil fuels, especially in areas of low-income or in communities of color. Once we switch to clean energy, everyone will benefit from cleaner air and water.
The switch to clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar has already prevented 12,700 premature deaths from fossil fuel pollution in the United States in this past decade (Nature)
Replacing fossil fuel vehicles with electric vehicles and clean transportation could prevent 10,000 asthma attacks annually (Environment California)
Our current sources of energy aren’t always reliable. Coal, fracked gas, and nuclear power fluctuate rapidly in price. Many power plants are decades old, and are starting to become a liability in the industry. Something else to worry about? Coal, fracked gas, and nuclear may fail during heat waves because they require so much water to manufacture. And with climate change on the rise, we will be seeing more extreme weather, and perhaps hotter summer. But when we make the switch, we will be working with much more reliable power.
In extreme weather events, like a hurricane, renewables are resilient. During Hurricane Sandy, for example, solar panels both weathered the storm and quickly repowered damaged areas (Christian Science Monitor)
Even for other uses of energy, like transportation, renewables come out on top on reliability. For example, electric vehicles require far less maintenance than fossil fuel vehicles, and their drivers avoid volatile gasoline prices (Department of Energy)
Emerging resources like energy storage, demand response technologies, and new transmission will create a more flexible energy system to produce even greater amounts of renewable energy
If you’d like to learn even more about clean energy, and how we’re going to get to 100% clean, please join us for the film tomorrow! Again, it is Thursday 11/6 at West Chester University in the Sykes Theater, at 6pm. And here is a quick trailer of the documentary:
The Third Annual Environmental Film Series at WCU sponsored by the Office of Sustainability at West Chester University, the West Chester Green Team, and member groups of the Chester County Environment Alliance, in memory of Graham Hudgings.
Sykes Student Union Theater, 110 W. Rosedale Ave., West Chester PA 19382. Door opens at 5:30 p.m., films at 6:00. Films are free!
SEPTA’s 104 and 92 buses stop on High Street, the ChesCo SCCOOT bus stops at the corner of Rosedale and New Streets, and the campus is easily accessible by bicycle and on foot. If you drive, access the lot in back of Sykes side via the streets to the east or west of Sykes.
9/19, Bikes vs Cars, about bicycling in our society
10/17, River Blue, about wasteful and polluting clothing manufacturing. 11/7, Reinventing Power, about renewable energy, with West Chester Sustainability director Will Williams as guest speaker 12/12, Eating Animals, with a vegetarian food tasting buffet by the WC Coop
everyone and thank you. It is an honor and pleasure to stand before
you today. And to follow Isaac. I was at West Chester Borough Council
that night in July when he and his schoolmates spoke so passionately
and intelligently, and persuaded Council to vote for a ban on
plastics. It was an inspiring night. These children, this borough,
coming together to make change.
am involved in a different local movement, but one that is closely
linked. When the Mariner East pipeline project roared into
Southeastern Pennsylvania, residents started educating themselves and
speaking up against this threat to the homes we work hard for, our
quality of life, our families’ safety, our community’s safety. We
aren’t pipeline activists, but rather ordinary residents defending
what we love.
land agents started knocking doors with easements five years ago,
property owners were told Mariner East would be just like all the
other pipelines we have been living with. We were told they had
eminent domain, so even if we didn’t sign their easements they
would put their pipelines on our land anyway and take us to court. We
were told that construction would last 2 weeks tops and “you won’t
hear us, you won’t see us, you won’t even notice we’re here.”
there probably aren’t many people in Chester County who haven’t
noticed Mariner East construction, now into its third year. In
townships across Chester County and the state, private water sources
have been destroyed, sometimes where there is no access to public
water. Streams have been polluted. In West Whiteland Township, where
I live, a neighborhood has been destroyed and the families in five
homes forced to leave in silence in order to get fair compensation.
And we now know that these pipelines are NOT like all the others.
three Mariner East pipelines will transport over 700,000 barrels per
day of ethane, butane and propane liquified under high pressure,
making them much more dangerous that the other pipelines we are used
to. When there is a leak these liquids convert back to their gaseous
state and because they are heavier than air they stay close to the
ground and spread like fog. They are odorless, colorless and highly
explosive. To evacuate, one must run a half mile, upwind, on foot. We
have no credible emergency plan to warn and protect the public. And
here’s the thing: all of this is being done to ship ethane from
fracking overseas to make plastics – something we need less of, not
problem with plastics isn’t just sea turtles and garbage patches
the size of Texas. The problem is also the fracking, pipelines, and
cracker plants that are required to produce these plastics. Stopping
anthropogenic climate change that threatens the whole world, and the
pipeline infrastructure buildout that threatens Chester County and
other parts of the US, isn’t just about switching to renewable
energy. The solution is also moving away from petroleum-based
in Pennsylvania we can make a huge difference. Although we are a
small share of the global population, we are a big contributor to
greenhouse gases. We are ranked #2 in the country for natural gas
extraction and #3 for coal.
we stand here today fighting climate change, oil and gas lobbyists
are working hard in Harrisburg and elsewhere to make our state a
powerhouse for the world and this area a pipeline hub.
we are the voters. We are the consumers. We can make mindful choices
every day about what we buy, how we get from place to place, how we
heat our homes…. But even more importantly, every six months we can
go to the voting booth. Regardless of political party we need to ask
all our candidates and elected officials what they will do to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. We need to demand our legislators reject
policies that shackle us to fracking, pipelines and plastics
We can make every single eco-friendly change in our own lives but the climate crisis demands big bold changes, the kind we need the government WE elect to make.
To quote Margaret Wheatley, “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”
Sierra Club’s Chester County is Ready for 100 (part of West Chester Green Team) is organizing a Clean Energy Tour of Chester County on October 19th.
We have more than 20 sites around Chester County – homes, businesses, farms, houses of worship, schools – who will host open houses to show how to harness the power of the sun and energy efficiency measures to improve our health, create jobs and save money. This is part of a grassroots National Solar and Sustainable Energy Tour held every year across the country. See more below and here.
Don’t miss it: Saturday, October 19, 2019, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Did you know Chester County is a state leader in solar energy and energy efficiency? Across the County, 20.88 MW are produced in 839 Installations (#2 in PA). Join us for a tour of exemplary clean energy projects at our schools, universities, businesses, farms, non-profits, municipalities and homes. Be inspired at this FREE event that features self-guided tours and open house tours across the County.
The logos to the left show sponsors of the Chesco tour. There will be more! Note that Chester County’s topic for the day is much broader than the national solar theme.
Kick-off events will provide an orientation and suggested route. The homes, businesses, and public places you visit will demonstrate green technologies such as solar, wind, geothermal, green design, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and more. Learn how your home, workplace, local schools and municipal facilities can be part of the transition to cleaner, safer renewable energy.
To find out more about proposing for the tour your clean energy installation of any sort (in addition to those listed above, green roofs, electricity storage, LEED certification, rain collection, and much more) download this: Solar tour host invitation
Fill out the proposal for your installation to be on the tour online here.