Now Available: Video of September’s PA IPL Statewide Monthly Meeting and Program!

Solar September

September’s PA IPL Statewide program focused on Solar arrays.

Solar is growing by leaps and bounds and congregations are keeping pace by installing solar at an ever increasing rate all over the country. They are financing it through a variety of creative options but the many financing options, their pros and cons, and what is best for each property is often confusing.

Are you thinking of going solar at your congregation? Are you interested in solar for yourself? September’s meeting brought together solar experts who answered many questions from different perspectives. Watch to learn how you can install solar on your property, on your congregation’s property, or otherwise participate in the growing solar sector to combat climate change.

Speakers:

Interfaith Power & Light has a new Solar Financing Guide for Congregations! Read our informative overview on financing options first. Find the Guide and check out all our Solar Resources here.

Solar September: PA IPL Statewide Monthly Meeting

Join PA IPL for our Statewide Monthly Meeting and Program taking place on Monday, September 20th at 7:00pm!

This month’s meeting and program will focus on Solar arrays.

Solar is growing by leaps and bounds and congregations are keeping pace by installing solar at an ever increasing rate all over the country. They are financing it through a variety of creative options but the many financing options, their pros and cons, and what is best for each property is often confusing.

Are you thinking of going solar at your congregation? Or are you interested in solar for yourself? September’s meeting will bring together solar experts who can answer all of your questions from different perspectives. Register for the meeting to explore how you can install solar on your property, on your congregation’s property, or otherwise participate in the growing solar sector to combat climate change.

Interfaith Power & Light has a new Solar Financing Guide for Congregations! Read our informative overview on financing options first. Find the Guide and check out all our Solar Resources here.

Register Here for the September meeting. You will receive an email providing the Zoom link to the meeting.

There is no fee for this program, but a suggested $5 donation will help us keep doing this work.

Now Available: Video of September’s PA IPL Philadelphia Chapter Program!

Cleaning Up Pennsylvania’s Electric Generation – Pushing RGGI Across the Finish Line!

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI – pronounced “Reggy”) is Governor Wolf’s effort to begin cleaning up the Commonwealth’s electricity generation. RGGI is a “cap and trade” mechanism for putting a price on CO2 emissions from power plants. States in New England and the Mid-Atlantic regions that have been part of RGGI for years have reduced their CO2 emissions significantly and have generated major revenue that has been invested in clean energy and other programs to address climate justice. In Pennsylvania RGGI has cleared several major hurdles toward implementation but still faces significant opposition.

At our September PA IPL Philadelphia Chapter program we had several participants who have been following RGGI since its introduction in Pennsylvania and are very familiar with its provisions and what remains to be done to ensure RGGI’s success:

  • Bill CozzensPA IPL Board member and climate activist with several organizations will be introducing the panelists, providing some background information on RGGI, and moderating the audience discussion and Q&A period
  • Nora Elmarzouky, a climate justice organizer working for POWER Interfaith. Nora is the staff person supporting POWER’s RGGI Advocacy team and its Public Utility Commission Working Group.
  • Liz Robinson, former Executive Director of the Energy Coordinating Agency Philadelphia, is currently serving as Executive Director of the Philadelphia Solar Energy Association. Liz is an active member of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Eco-Justice Collaborative: Quakers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware promoting clean energy and economic, racial, and social justice. Liz has been actively supporting RGGI since its introduction.

RGGI is a complex regulation with lots of components. During our meeting Liz and Nora unpacked some of the complexity and helped us understand the benefits and current status of RGGI in Pennsylvania and what we can do to help push RGGI across the finish line.

Topics covered include:

  • How RGGI works and what impact it is likely to have on electric generation and costs
  • Benefits: reduction of CO2
  • Benefits: Funds available for clean energy and investments in environmental justice communities. How should funds be allocated?
  • Current status of approval
  • Opposition to RGGI
  • Steps we can take to move RGGI forward

What can congregations do to offset their carbon footprint, fossil fuel use / greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change impact?

Teach Others 

  • It is important to preach about our moral and ethical responsibility to live actively as stewards of creation and then seek ways to tend to the garden of creation. This can be from the pulpit, a green team, youth and adult education, or by becoming engaged in organizations such as your state’s IPL. In this way the impact of sermons, film screenings, education, and actively living as stewards shine as exemplars for others. The impact flows out through the congregation so that the individuals can adopt the same practices and they act as agents of change in the world. One congregation building becomes a community of care, and the impact is multiplied. 

Help Others 

  • Assist frontline and low-income communities to adopt practices that offset the same carbon footprints/ emissions/ impacts. Not all communities have the same resources. Working with, and I very deliberately mean with, other congregations can further directly spread the impact of your congregation’s efforts. 

Creation Care 

  • Plant trees on your congregation’s property or anywhere you can. PA IPL and the Chesapeake Bay Fund, as well as many other sources, will provide low or no cost trees for you to plant. Not only do these plantings mitigate flooding and support native biodiversity but they also serve as a natural form of carbon capture. Paralleling the plantings, the removal of invasive species and the planting native gardens further support biodiversity and carbon capture with minimal if any addition to your carbon footprint.

Community and Vegetable Gardens 

  • Not only do such projects serve as a unifying, education, and fun activity for the community which encourages mental health and a connection to our natural environment and food source it also can help reduce meat consumption as well food transportation. Much of our food is transported long distances and stored in large stores both of which produce significant carbon footprints while the growing of industrial scale crops can also produce significant emissions through the use of fertilizers and industrial equipment. This is putting aside the carbon and environmental impact of the meat industry. Gardens can serve as a further method of natural carbon capture just like tree planting.  

Investments and Divest 

  • If the congregation or its members have investments in fossil fuel industry it is important to divest and then re-invest in green sustainable renewable alternatives such as solar, wind, geothermal, etc. as well as companies which truly support these industries. The future of our economy is underway, and investments can help accelerate the transition so that we can mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. The industry and economy will follow the money.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle 

  • It may be cliché, but it is absolutely important that the congregation and its members take this adage to heart. When planning and holding events or regular activities it is important to consider the ways in which we can reduce our consumption, purchase things we can reuse, or at least things we can recycle. The impact of the congregation can be multiplied by the adoption of such practices by the members. This will again assist in the transition to a new economy. 

Purchase low carbon goods 

  • Paralleling the three R’s the purchase of locally grown and made goods as well as those which utilize the fewest chemicals, and the least harmful practices here and abroad is an important larger step. Even if we use less, or can reuse, or recycle an item the whole life of the products is important.

Weatherization 

  • An energy audit, especially for older structures can be an important step, and PA IPL has someone who does an initial assessment for free and has expertise in congregational structures. There are however also simple ways we can weatherize today. It is important to check and maintain your HVAC systems regularly so that it is functioning efficiently to reduce cost and waste. Additionally, congregations can install programable thermostats which control use throughout the day and according to temperature changes. The efficiency of HVAC systems and thermostats are increased by the proper door, wall, and window insulation all of which aid in the efficiency of the system.  

Energy Efficiency 

  • Other efficiency are the purchase of LED light bulbs, smart switch, and high efficiency appliances while also removing ghost loads, which draw energy even when not in use.  

Purchase Sustainable Green Renewable Energy 

  • Many competitive energy options exist through state energy exchanges which allow you to purchase part or all of your energy use from sustainable green renewable energy sources.

Installation of Sustainable Green Renewable Energy 

  • Not all congregations are in the position to purchase their own installation, but solar arrays, windmills, and geothermal systems are all viable options which offer financial benefits and serve as an example for the broader public but also are obviously large commitments to stewardship. PA IPL and others are able to assist congregations in navigating the financing options and the process. In September PA IPL is having an event with experts to specifically discuss how to purchase a solar array.

Advocate 

  • While not all congregations or individuals are interested in getting involved in advocacy, it is important to remember that advocating on behalf of climate justice and sustainable green renewable energy with elected officials and policy makers is a vital part of our impact. Too often congregations are too worried to speak up for their moral and ethical commitments. If we do not speak up someone else will speak for us. If we do not act we are not protecting ourselves, others, and our environment as God expects of us. Without changes in the ways governments (local, state, and federal) and industries operate there is only so much an individual can do. People, government, and industry are the three legs of the solution. 

Other Resources

PA IPL also has a congregation tool kit which allows congregations to explore how to do this for themselves. Look for updates on our website.

IPL Cool Congregation Startup Kit

EPA Energy Star for Congregations Workbook

Clean Energy Investment Resources

Divestment Resources

Congregation Examples

In addition to the IPL Cool Congregation there are many examples of what has been done across PA and the USA. Christ Covenant Church in Harleysville for example, installed a large ground based solar array which covers on average 90% of their energy use for multiple buildings, new, old, and modified. Solar arrays at congregations such as Christ Covenant serve as an educational tool for the congregation, especially the youth education programs, and will in the course of its 30 year lifespan of the array produce more than double the value of the upfront investment of the congregation. Moreover, if Pennsylvania had a better community solar or SRAC (solar renewable energy credit) policy the energy production in the summer which is 2 to 3 times the usage would have made the solar array even more profitable. On August 27th, 2021 PA IPL held a solar tour at Christ Covenant with elected officials and others. There is a video on PA IPL’s website which is a combination of video from this tour and a second tour in Allegany County.  PA IPL hopes to invite other congregations in the future to join us at Christ Covenant and elsewhere to tour these installations and see the greening congregations are doing to reduce consumption, adopt alternative energy sources, and live actively as stewards of creation.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill: What it Does and Does Not Include

On August 10, the Senate passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, a $3.5 Trillion budget deal. Just days later, they approved a budget resolution.

Of IPL’s priorities, the bipartisan bill includes:

  • Funding to clean up Superfund sites and other legacy pollution, including abandoned mine lands ($21 billion, with $11 billion for abandoned mine lands)
  • Investments to improve and expand ‌Amtrak‌ ‌service‌ ‌($66 billion)
  • Some funding for ‌clean‌ ‌drinking‌ ‌water ($63 billion, only $15 billion for lead pipe removal)
  • Investments in ‌the‌ ‌development‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌21st‌ ‌century‌ ‌electrical‌ ‌grid‌ ($65 billion)
  • Building electric‌ ‌vehicle‌ ‌charging‌ ‌stations‌ ($7.5 billion)

Unfortunately, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill failed to address many other climate issues that will help meet the climate goals our nation needs. Clean energy, replacing lead pipes, wind and solar energy, clean transportation, and investing in resources for disadvantaged communities was not addressed. As we look to the future, we need President Biden and Congress to go bold — so we can spur growth.

  • Clean energy: The bipartisan deal includes no meaningful support for wind and solar power. We need the reconciliation package to include an extension and expansion of clean energy tax credits for wind, solar, and electric vehicles, as well as a national Clean Energy Standard that supports truly clean, renewable energy.
  • Replacing lead pipes: This deal cuts the total funding for clean water to half of what the President had initially proposed, and only $15 billion for removing lead pipes. This is significantly less than $60 billion the water industry estimates is needed to ensure all communities have lead-free drinking water.
  • Clean transportation: The bipartisan deal includes insufficient funding for public transit, rail, electric school buses, and electric vehicle charging.
  • Investing with justice: As President Biden promised on the campaign trail, we need to see at least 40% of funds spent in the communities hurt the most by our current polluting economy.

Whether Congress immediately moves a budget reconciliation package that matches the scale of the climate and environmental justice crises we face depends on the actions we take right now. We still need a Climate Bill and the actions we take as faith communities matter now more than ever. We need the budget reconciliation bill to be a Climate Bill that meets this moment, heeds the science, and delivers on climate, justice, and jobs.

If you want to let your Senators and Representative know climate matters are important to you, REGISTER HERE to join PA IPL and Jewish Earth Alliance to learn how to write effective letters to elected officials on August 25, 2021 at 7:00pm. As part of this session, you will write your own letter on a climate issue important to you. You can be part of making a Climate Bill a reality.

Main Line IPL Monthly Chapter Meeting – June 2021

The Main Line chapter of PA IPL meets each month on fourth Monday evenings, 7:00-8:45pm via Zoom.  We email a link to people on the Tuesday prior — often with a bit of special program description.  We hope you will join us!

To make sure you get the links, reach out to conveners Courtenay Willcox and Chuck Marshall by emailing them at mainline@paipl.org — and be sure to add mainline@paipl.org to your contacts!

This month, we will share ideas, activities, and programs from 7:00-7:30pm. From 7:30-8:45pm, the following program will take place:

Radnor’s Ready for 100:
100% Clean Electricity by 2035 and

100% Clean Heating & Transportation by 2050

For our June 28th program, we will hear from Dan Burnham from Central Baptist Church in Wayne. He joined the Radnor Township Ready for 100 Green Team at the invitation of Sara Pilling two years ago. Sara met him at Central Baptist when he gave a Sunday school presentation on plastics and recycling, and later on global warming and the carbon cycle.

On Radnor’s Green Team, Dan helped prepare the Request for Proposal for the township to hire an energy consulting firm. The hired firm, Practical Energy Solutions of West Chester, prepared a Renewable Energy and Conservation Plan for the township that was issued in Feb 2021. The plan is directed toward the Rf100 goals of 100% clean electricity by 2035 and 100% clean heating and transportation by 2050.

Dan’s presentation will summarize key points in the Renewable Energy and Conservation Plan, particularly what can be done by residential, business, institutional, and municipal sectors to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Key tactics will be building public commitment, promoting adoption of solar energy in particular and more electrical energy in general, and advocating for favorable state and municipal policies and laws.

There will be a time for questions after Dan’s program.