Good morning. My name is Matt Walker and I'm the Community Outreach Director with Clean Air Council.
For more than 40 years, the Council has fought to improve air quality across the region. The Council's mission is to protect everyone's right to breathe clean air. The Clean Air Council thanks all Philadelphia City Councilmembers that support the vision for solar energy in the City laid out in Resolution 140188.
Clean Air Council has been a leader in promoting renewable energy in Pennsylvania since the Council formed Community Energy Incorporated, which brought the first commercial wind farm to Pennsylvania in 1998. Since then, the Council spurred growth in solar energy by signing up customers to purchase 100 percent Pennsylvania-produced solar energy. The Council continues to promote renewable energy policies at the local, state, and federal level. Supporting renewable clean energy is crucial in the City where one in four children is diagnosed with asthma and 80 people die every summer from ozone pollution created by electric generation and exacerbated by extreme heat from climate change.
Philadelphia continues to break a number of weather records, including five precipitation and temperature records last summer. Philadelphia's low-income populations feel these weather extremes and the health impacts from air pollution the most, but they could also reap the positive health effects of using more cleaner sources of energy that displace dirtier fossil fuels.
If City Council votes to help bring solar energy to Philadelphia, they would spur local well-paying and safe jobs for Philadelphians that cannot be outsourced. Relying on large single sources of power like goal and natural gas fire power plants has created a centralized electric grid, add risks to disasters and potential terrorist attacks. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wrote in an internal memo that if a terrorist were to destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer, then the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months. A more distributed system, such as one using solar panels, is much more resilient.
While a general commitment to solar energy for Philadelphia is a great start, Clean Air Council urges Philadelphia City Council to take more ambitious steps to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Clean Air Council urges City Council to view this resolution as only the beginning of Philadelphia's efforts to promote renewable energy. This is going to take real commitment and long-term investment.
Despite languishing state policies, Philadelphia can promote solar energy right now. The Council recommends the following policies which would reduce air pollution and protect public health while promoting job growth: implement feed-in tariffs or power purchase agreements to help spur the growth of local renewable energy; develop a property assessed clean energy mechanism; create additional tax abatement policies for new or renovated buildings; increase local solar rebates; purchase additional Pennsylvania-made renewable energy to cover the amount of energy used in the City.
The Council will follow up with members of City Council on these recommendations to ensure that Philadelphia develops a comprehensive package that will demonstrate Philadelphia's commitment to becoming the most sustainable city in the country.
I urge City Council to pass Resolution 140188.