A Philadelphia interfaith group is urging southeastern Pennsylvania utility PECO to sign long-term contracts for solar and wind power, challenging the utility’s preference for short-term contracts that favor fossil fuels. Power Interfaith, the group behind the initiative, argues that solar and wind power are cheaper alternatives to burning fossil fuels.
According to Julie Greenberg, the director of Power’s climate justice and jobs initiative and a rabbi for a Philadelphia congregation, PECO should include a maximum amount of affordable renewable energy in its upcoming four-year energy procurement plan, which is due to state regulators next year. Greenberg criticizes PECO’s tendency to propose only the minimum required by Pennsylvania law, as they did four years ago.
Dwayne Royster, the executive director of Power Interfaith and a senior pastor at Faith United Church of Christ in Washington, DC, highlights the need for PECO to diversify its energy sources. Royster points out that the state of Pennsylvania ranks 45th out of 50 states in renewable energy generation using wind, solar, and hydro power.
Royster calls attention to the fact that PECO’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, poses a risk to households struggling to afford energy bills. He emphasizes the importance of transitioning to cleaner energy sources in the face of climate change impacts already affecting Philadelphia, such as hotter summers, flooding, and extreme weather events.
The interfaith group draws inspiration from other utilities in Pennsylvania that have committed to long-term power purchasing contracts for solar energy to support infrastructure development.
The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) previously approved a PECO proposal to seek ten-year contracts for Solar Alternative Energy Credits in 2020.
Power Interfaith aims to use people power to shift the region’s energy production away from fossil fuels and towards clean and sustainable wind and solar power. They advocate for clean energy to ensure a healthier environment and a brighter future for children.
The group recognizes the social and economic benefits of renewable energy, as highlighted by Anthony Ross, a solar installer with Solar States. Ross shares his personal journey, stating that his involvement in the solar industry helped him overcome personal challenges, including homelessness and incarceration. He also raises concerns about the negative health impacts of fracking, particularly in low-income rural areas.
Power Interfaith, which operates in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, credits the Earth Quaker Action Team for its work in advocating for local green jobs through solar expansion.
The group’s efforts aim to address climate change challenges and build a more sustainable and equitable energy future for the Philadelphia region.