Main Line IPL Monthly Chapter Meeting – January 3, 2022

Electrify and De-Carbonize Your Life
with Liz Robinson

For our January 3rd program we will explore how to make your electricity clean, how to use less energy, then move to electrifying heating, water heating, cooking, other appliances, lawn care, and transportation. Ms. Robinson will also explain that, with the passage of the Infrastructure Bill and possibly the Build Back Better Bill, many new incentives will be in place to help people get fossil fuels out of their lives.

Register here

Liz Robinson is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Solar Energy Association (PSEA), a nonprofit dedicated to expanding solar energy across the state. PSEA conducts STEM education projects designed to increase students’ understanding and engagement in solar energy and related technologies. Prior to coming to PSEA, Liz founded and directed the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA) for more than 30 years. ECA provides energy efficiency, education, workforce development, home repair, and bill payment assistance services to thousands of residential households every year in PA and Delaware. Liz co-founded and directed the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance (KEEA) the energy efficiency trade association for Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She also managed the Energy Cooperative Association of Philadelphia (ECAP), expanding it to a regional organization and taking it into the renewable energy market.

The Main Line chapter of PA IPL will be meeting at 7:00pm via Zoom. This program follows their meeting and is open to anyone. For those joining the January 3 program with Liz Robinson about clean energy, please enter the room at 7:30pm.

Members use the same link to access the Main Line IPL Chapter meeting at 7:00pm as well as for Liz Robinson’s program at 7:30pm.

Register here

We looking forward to seeing you there!

Solar Power Possibilities with PA IPL & JEA

Join us Wednesday, December 15 at 7:00pm for a meeting as part of PA IPL‘s ongoing partnership with Jewish Earth Alliance (JEA).

TOPIC:
Solar Power Possibilities: in the darkest time of the year, it is good to think about the sun and solar power

SPEAKERS:
Elena Weissmann, Regional Director at Mid-Atlantic Vote Solar
Spiritual offering by our own Kathy Hrabovsky

Register here for this event.

Philadelphia PA IPL Local Chapter Meeting – September 2021

On Tuesday, September 14th the Philly Chapter of PA IPL will resume meetings each month on second Tuesday evenings at 7:00 PM EST via Zoom. This month’s meeting will be a great, high energy inauguration of the Philly Chapter for the 2021-22 year and we want to invite the entire state to register and attend:

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.

For our September PA IPL Philadelphia Chapter meeting we have 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 is 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 will begin to unpack some of the complexity and will help us understand the benefits and current status of RGGI in Pennsylvania and what we can do to help push RGGI across the finish line.

  • 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

There will be ample time for audience discussion and Q&A. We will also share templates for emails and letters to our representatives in Harrisburg and for letters to the editor supporting RGGI.

Register here to receive a link to join the meeting.

We look forward to welcoming you on Tuesday, September 14th at 7:00pm via Zoom.

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.