Climate Strike: Friday, September 20th
Hundreds of Climate Strikes are scheduled for Friday, September 20th all across the country. The Strike in Philly will begin at 11:00 am at City Hall. The Strikes started in schools with young people, but have now spread to include everyone at school and at work. For more information go to 350.org.
Carbon Cap and Invest Bill to be Introduced
Support for a carbon market in Pennsylvania is rapidly growing. Senators Haywood, Santasiero and others will introduce a carbon cap and invest bill in September 2019. Led by Senator Jay Costa (Allegheny County), the Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Transition Act would establish an ambitious, declining limit on carbon emissions. At the same time, it would create an Energy Transition Fund to support programs that promote clean air and create jobs by expanding the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Solarize Philly Going Strong
Solarize Philly ( solarizephilly.org ), a group-buying program administered by the Philadelphia Energy Authority is going gangbusters in its third phase. The more residents who buy, the deeper the discounts. The Energy Authority has selected reputable installers and ensures quality equipment. In addition, there is a job training program for students interested in careers in renewable energy.
The program now offers a rebate of $.20 per watt! Homeowners also get a federal tax credit of 30 percent of a solar system’s cost. That credit continues until the end of 2019, then drops to 26 percent in 2020, 22 percent in 2021, and expires entirely in 2022.
The Solar Home Tour drew 100 guests to the ten host sites across Philadelphia on August 17. This year, for the first time, Solarize Philly is offering a lease option for qualifying residents to have solar installed, but lease it instead of owning. The installer would own the system and receive the tax credits. The homeowner would pay a small monthly fee. Apply now to take advantage of the rebate + tax credit: www.solarizephilly.org. There has never been a better time to GO SOLAR!
Solar Training Opportunity for High School Students
The Philadelphia School District is accepting applications for the next Bright Solar Futures class, which will prepare students for solar jobs during the 2019-2020 academic year. All 11th and 12th grade Career and Technical Education (CTE) students are invited to apply by Monday September 16th. The first step is to send in an application and teacher recommendation by Sept. 16th. Ask your teacher for an application form or email Melodee Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org. The next step is to interview at the Energy Coordinating Agency on September 18th. Contact Melodee Williams to schedule your interview. If you have any questions, please contact the Philadelphia Energy Authority at email@example.com or 215-686-4483.
Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) is offering solar PV installer training for youth aged 18 - 24. The current training will be expanded this fall into a training program in conjunction with the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA) and a technical high school. This program would be for 1,080 hours, compared with the program now, which is 120 hours. If PEA’s application to the PA Department of Education is approved, this training could be replicated statewide. More details can be found in this Inquirer article. Solar PV is one of the most rapidly growing jobs in Pennsylvania and across the region. ECA continues to place virtually 100% of its graduates in solar jobs.
Solar = New Cash Crop for PA Farmers
Pennsylvania lags far behind most states in solar energy, with only 433 megawatts installed to date. However, local farmers are increasingly embracing solar for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is often more profitable than other uses. This recent report from NBC shows how solar is helping a farmer in Lancaster hold onto his family farm.
SEPTA goes SOLAR !
SEPTA joins a rapidly growing number of corporations and government entities who are going solar, by signing a contract with a solar developer, committing to purchase enough solar power to supply 20% of its entire electricity load. The deal will not only reduce emissions, it will save SEPTA $400,000 a year! The cost of solar has come down so dramatically, a rapidly increasing number of corporations and institutions across the country are switching and saving. More details can be found in this story in the Inquirer.
PJM found to be heading for climate disaster
A recent analysis from NRDC, “Comparing America's grid operators on clean energy progress: PJM is headed for a climate disaster” takes a close look at a critical part of the energy industry that is extremely important, but little understood. The study finds that “A comparison of the nation's electric grid operators shows that PJM is unique in the degree to which its markets have fostered gas development while hindering new development of wind, solar and other zero emissions electricity sources that states and customers want. While many factors, such as geographic resource potential, influence development in regional electricity markets, PJM's market structure has played a significant role. “ Too great an emphasis on capacity markets is part of the explanation. Details can be found here: https://www.utilitydive.com/news/comparing-americas-grid-operators-on-clean-energy-progress-pjm-is-headed/557994/
New York joins leaders in Transition to 100% by 2050
New York passed the second-most aggressive renewable energy mandate in the nation, with the Senate approving S6599. The New York state climate leadership and protection act has many provisions affecting multiple sectors which all add up to a 100% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from man-made sources by 2050, with the stated goal of “exercising a global leadership role on greenhouse gas mitigation and climate change adaptation.”
PA commits to 80% by 2050; Joins U.S. Climate Alliance
Governor Wolf released the 2018 Climate Action Plan and announced that PA was the 24th state to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, committing to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050 as called for in the Paris Agreement. The Climate Action Plan lays out a detailed series of initiatives including increased investment in energy efficiency, solar and wind energy; reduction in methane emissions; investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and many others. The Governor is also giving serious consideration to a carbon cap and trade program for Pennsylvania.
Carbon Cap & Trade Petition Advances
The Environmental Quality Board (EQB) voted in favor of accepting a rulemaking petition to create a cap-and-trade program that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions economy wide in PA. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has hired a consultant to model the costs and benefits of a carbon market in Pennsylvania. This study should be complete in January of 2020. The petition includes over 400 pages of draft regulations detailing how the program would work. Greenhouse gas emissions would be capped at 2016 levels. The cap would be reduced by 3% per year, putting PA on track to carbon neutrality by 2052. The regulations are based on the California carbon market rather than the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which is more limited in scope. More detail can be found on Climate XChange and E&E News.
AEPS Bills Raise Renewables to 30% by 2030
Senators Haywood, Santasiero, and Killion cosponsored SB 600, a bi-partisan bill to increase Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) to 30% renewables by 2030, including 7.5% utility scale and 2.5% distributed solar. 10% solar will create 65,000 new jobs in PA and will lower energy costs!. The bill calls on the PUC to study the benefits of a renewable energy storage program. The legislation would also provide for several protections that control costs for electricity customers, including long-term contracting, fixed ACP payments, and a 15-year lifetime limit for generating eligible SRECs for solar projects. A companion bill, HB 1195 has been introduced in the House. These improvements to the AEPS will enable PA to start to catch up to neighboring states whose renewable portfolio standards have become far more ambitious than PA’s in recent years.
A new, independent study finds that transitioning to 10% solar would reduce wholesale electricity costs by $619 million!
Nuclear Bailout Stalls
The effort in the PA legislature to subsidize the nuclear industry has stalled, leading Exelon to announce the closure of the remaining reactor at Three Mile Island by September 30, 2019.
Planet Philadelphia Commentary role debuts
Liz Robinson is providing Clean Energy Commentary for the Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association on Planet Philadelphia on a monthly basis. You can listen to the podcast here: https://www.planetphiladelphia.com/
Community Solar Legislation Introduced
With strong bipartisan support and more than 63 cosponsors, Rep Kaufer (R) introduced HB 531, to enable Community Solar statewide. Community solar will provide access to clean, affordable solar electricity for the 70% of Pennsylvanians who currently do not have a suitable roof, who may not own their homes, or have the capital to invest. At a press conference on February 19th, Reps. Kaufer and Millard spoke about the importance of solar energy to all Pennsylvanians, and Rep. Bullock emphasized that this bill will bring solar energy within reach of low and moderate income people. The Senate Bill 705 has been introduced by Senator Scavello with very strong bipartisan support and 19 cosponsors.
Solar and Wind now Cheaper than Coal
The coal industry has been hammered by low prices from the booming natural gas industry for a number of years. Now a recent study from Energy Innovation Policy and Technology finds that solar and wind are cheaper than most coal plants. This surely signals additional coal plant closures ahead.
Gov Wolf Announces Climate Initiative for PA
Pa is taking action on climate change with Gov. Wolf’s announcement to set the first-ever statewide goal to cut climate pollution.
Under the executive order signed by Governor Wolf, Pa will work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.
The GreenGov Council will work with all state agencies to reduce energy use in state government and improve the energy efficiency of state buildings and vehicles, saving taxpayers money in the process. The GreenGov Council will serve as a central coordinating body to promote the implementation of the executive order and the achievement of the following state agency performance goals:
Reduce overall energy consumption by 3 percent per year, and 21 percent by 2025, as compared to 2017 levels.
Replace 25 percent of the state passenger car fleet with battery electric and plug-in electric hybrid cars by 2025.
Procure renewable energy to offset at least 40 percent of the commonwealth’s annual electricity use.
“Commonwealth agencies can continue to demonstrate their commitment to both environmental and fiscal stewardship by implementing best practices to reduce energy and resource consumption, improve energy efficiency, realize cost savings, and protect the environment,” said Governor Wolf.
The GreenGov Council will encourage and coordinate the incorporation of environmentally sustainable practices into the commonwealth government's policy, planning, operations, procurement, and regulatory functions, and strive for continuous improvement in efficiency and performance.
The announcement comes at a time when Pa is feeling more harmful impacts from our changing climate, and comes on the same day it was reported that U.S. carbon emissions increased in 2018.
C-PACE Rapidly Moving Across the Commonwealth
Philadelphia joins Chester and North Hampton Township, adopting C-PACE and beginning implementation. Philadelphia expects to do approximately $100 million in loans in the first year! The final guidelines for the Commercial PACE Program have been issued. C-PACE is a great way to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy and water efficiency improvements on commercial buildings statewide.
Puerto Rico to become 100% Renewable by 2050
Puerto Rico and Washington join a rapidly growing number of states, cities and territories to pass legislation requiring a transition to 100% solar, wind and other renewable energy by 2050. Puerto Rico’s legislation also expedites approvals of solar systems, and requires the island’s antiquated central grid to be broken up into microgrids.
PUC Closes PA Borders
The PA Public Utility Commission unanimously issued a final order confirming the intent of Act 40 to insure that the solar energy produced in order to meet the requirements of Pennsylvania's portfolio standard is in fact generated in state. This decision is leadingto many more solar jobs all across the state. Thanks to Senator Scavello, Governor Wolf, and all those who worked tirelessly to make this happen.
JSS Teacher Receives Ignite STEM Grant !
Laura Hassan, a STEM teacher at Baldi middle school received a $2,000 Ignite STEM grant to help expand their STEM program. In addition to teaching middle school students physics, astronomy and solar energy, Hassan also teaches robotics. Hands on learning requires lots of classroom materials, so this grant is a perfect fit. Read more: https://www.phillytrib.com/news/local_news/c-c-a-baldi-science-teacher-wins-stem-grants/article_e5824f40-ddec-5294-9f3b-d9ef3fc220f3.html
TMI to Close by September 30, 2019!
Exelon Generation announced that Three Mile Island Generating Station Unit 1 (TMI) will shut down by Sept. 30, 2019, as previously announced in May 2017. With only three legislative session days remaining in May and no action taken to advance House Bill 11 or Senate Bill 510, it is clear a state policy solution will not be enacted before June 1, in time to reverse the premature retirement of the plant. Exelon will offer jobs to all TMI workers affected by the plant’s closure.