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Climate Justice Group Calls for Local Solar Jobs

Proponents of clean energy say training workers to install solar power could help the climate and create jobs in areas hardest hit by pollution. (biker3/Adobe Stock)
Proponents of clean energy say training workers to install solar power could help the climate and create jobs in areas hardest hit by pollution. (biker3/Adobe Stock)
July 17, 2019

COATESVILLE, Pa. - It's time to invest in local solar jobs. That's the message climate-justice advocates delivered to PECO on Tuesday. Clean-energy backers rallied in Coatesville, calling on Philadelphia Electric Co. to make local jobs a priority by committing to at least 20% solar power by 2025.

According to Dana Robinson, media director for the Earth Quaker Action Team, less than 0.5% of the power PECO distributes is from solar. He said he believes making a commitment to get more of its power from local solar, and training local people to do the installation, would benefit the climate - and residents of areas such as Coatesville, hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs.

"PECO has the power to go into the marketplace and say, 'We want electricity from community solar installations and rooftop solar installations in poor and working-class neighborhoods,' " he said.

A PECO spokesperson noted that the company participates in the state Department of Environmental Protection's "Pennsylvania's Solar Future Plan" and has supported the "PA Solar Power for All" bill in the General Assembly. However, Robinson said in two meetings with PECO and its parent company Exelon, the company suggested it might consider setting a goal of 5% solar within the next five to 10 years.

"This is way too timid," he said, "given the need both to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to do something for chronically low-income and unemployed people."

Robinson said his organization and others are meeting with Exelon executives again next week, and Tuesday's rally was intended to show that they mean business.

"We think that by spotlighting the need for better jobs in Coatesville, we really will get some local interest in holding PECO to be more accountable," he said. "So, it's viewed as an escalation in our pressure."

He added that expanding locally generated solar power also would improve health and economic opportunity in communities that have borne the greatest burdens of greenhouse-gas pollution.

More information is online at eqat.org/campaign.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA