*UPDATE SINCE ORIGINAL POST*
With the deadline looming for PECO to make the right choice and with sixty new POWER congregations joining EQAT in Power Local Green Jobs campaign, PECO decided to consider local solar energy options for Philadelphia. This is a big step in the right direction. Join us on May 10, 4pm at the PECO office, 22nd and Market, in Philadelphia where we will Celebrate and Escalate. You can read more about this development here.
In Philadelphia, Partnership for Working Families affiliate POWER: An Interfaith Movement joined forces with Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) in its Local Green Jobs campaign. The coalition is calling on the largest local utility, PECO, to purchase solar power from underserved North Philadelphia’s rooftops.
“Environmental justice means an economy that works for everyone,” said Rabbi Julie Greenberg of POWER. “We need to create jobs where they are most needed and keep our energy dollars circulating locally.”
Currently, PECO is mandated by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to increase its supply of solar energy at the lowest cost. That cost calculation does not take into account the cost of climate disruption, health issues from fossil fuels or outsourcing energy jobs. That means that all too often, solar energy contracts fail to create sorely needed jobs in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. People of color and low-income earners have been disproportionately impacted by dirty energy policies, and the coalition argues that in our transition to a clean energy economy, we must be sure to distribute burden and opportunity more equitably, not repeating the mistakes of our dirty energy past. We must not forget the human cost our communities have already been forced to bear.
“Some corporations like to claim that they are good neighbors because they distribute charity here and there. We are not here for charity; we are here for justice,” said, North Philadelphia Pastor Greg Holston, co-chair of POWER’s Economic Dignity Team and national president of OIC of America. “These are our energy dollars and we want to invest them in our neighborhoods. PECO can help end poverty in Philadelphia.”
EQAT comes to this alliance fresh from its victorious 5-year campaign to convince PNC Bank to stop financing mountaintop removal coal mining. POWER recently celebrated victories in raising the living wage for city subcontractors and a successful 2-year campaign to build jobs and justice into the city’s contract with Comcast. POWER brings to this solar jobs campaign 60 congregations of all faiths throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania.
As part of the POWER Local Green Jobs campaign, EQAT and POWER are teaming up for a "Celebrate or Escalate" action on May 10th at PECO Headquarters. There, the group will either celebrate PECO's decision to create local green jobs in North Philadelphia or escalate actions until their demands are met. You can show your support by tweeting at @Pecoconnect "PECO Please decide to power local green jobs #CelebrateOrEscalate.”