Fri, 30 May 2008
PennFuture held our annual energy conference on May 28 and 29 in Camp Hill. This year's conference was entitled "Pennsylvania's Clean Energy Boom in 2008 and Beyond," and focused on jobs, investment, and environmental protection. Emphasized throughout the conference was the need for swift passage of pending energy legislation in the Pennsylvania Senate: the Energy Savings Bill (HB 2200) and the Clean Energy Funding Bill (SHB 1).
In this podcast, we hear a presentation from Phil Harris, PennFuture's senior fellow in our Center for Energy, Enterprise, and the Environment. Harris is introduced by PennFuture's president and CEO John Hanger. Harris is a 30-year veteran of the electric industry, and was most recently the president and CEO of PJM Interconnection, our regional electric transmission organization, for 15 years. Under his leadership, PJM became the world's largest electric grid operator and wholesale power market, serving over 51 million people in 13 states and the District of Columbia. At the conference, Harris talked about the "smart grid"-- specifically about the many challenges we face in order to make the grid truly smart and efficient.
Harris details how reliability in the grid can only be achieved through a balance of supply and demand, but how the industry and most of our policies have for the past century focused almost entirely on the supply side of the equation, namely electricity transmission and distribution. But more than half of the industry is involved with electricity demand and very little has been accomplished there.
Harris speaks repeatedly of the need to enact legislation like HB 2200 so that we can make much-needed strides in creating a healthy, robust energy industry. Problems including a rapidly aging workforce and serious shortages in the numbers of skilled professionals or technical training and education programs point to the need for green job creation and related programs that will emerge from HB 2200 and SHB 1. Energy use continues to rise, and the costs are mounting. The gains to be had from focusing on making the grid truly a smart grid are huge, and lie on the demand side.
To learn more about how you can support the Campaign for Great Green Jobs, visit our web site. There you can take action, find upcoming events, or sign up to receive more information. As always, we welcome your comments. Simply click on "Comments" below or send us an e-mail.
Fri, 23 May 2008
Philadelphia's Urban Sustainability Forum recently played host to an impressive, interfaith collaboration of individuals, as members from Muslim, Jewish, and Christian congregations gathered to share their stories about being good stewards of the environment.
PennFuture's Joy Bergey played the role of moderator at the event, while Christine Knapp captured interviews. We hear first from Shaheen Kanchwala, a Master's student at the University of Pennsylvania who helped research and plan the event. Ms. Kanchwala got involved in part to see faith in action, and she was not disappointed at this event.
Christine then talks with Rabbi Lawrence Troster, Director of the Fellowship Program and Rabbinic Scholar-in-Residence at GreenFaith, an interfaith environmental coalition in New Jersey. Rabbi Troster has a wealth of experience in the interfaces between faith and environment, serving also as the Rabbinic Fellow of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), the Jewish Chaplain of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson and an Associate of Bard's Institute of Advanced Theology. Rabbi Troster also co-chairs the Interfaith Partnership for the Environment of the United Nations Environment Program (UPEN).
Finally, we hear from Aleciah Anthony, field director at the Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition. She has worked with the NWBCCC for eight years, starting as a neighborhood organizer apprentice in the Training Institute for Careers in Organizing, a program that she currently directs. Ms. Anthony has also worked with a team of grassroots community leaders in the Bronx to create the Community Leadership Academy, a training center at NWBCCC that offers a full range of training in the art and science of community organizing.
Discover more about the faith-based organizations involved in the May forum here. To learn more about PennFuture's work in Philadelphia, the Next Great City, visit our site. There you get more involved. As always, we welcome your comments. Simply click "comments" below, or e-mail us at podcast (at) pennfuture (dot) org.
Fri, 16 May 2008
Transportation continues to be a prime source of heat trapping gases, soot, smog and serious health problems across the globe. Convenient and cleaner public transit offers one key ingredient for a sustainable city.
On April 17, Sustainable Philadelphia held a Green Transportation Fair and a Forum on Sustainable Transportation to show Philadelphians the latest technology and to learn what other cities are doing to improve their transportation options.
In this podcast, PennFuture's Christine Knapp interviews two of the experts presenting at the forum. Walter Hook, executive director of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy discusses the creative solutions being used globally to create public transportation, and to encourage the use of bikes. And Steve Weber, assistant commissioner for strategic planning for New York City's Department of Transportation, talks about the advances made in the past year since Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the city's sustainability plan.
The forum was part of the work of the Next Great City coalition, dedicated to creating a positive future for Philadelphia by advocating for common sense, cost effective policies that enhance environmental quality, strengthen neighborhoods and increase our economic competitiveness.
To learn more about PennFuture's work with the Next Great City project, visit our website. There you can also sign up to receive more information, or make a tax-deductible contribution to support our work. As always, we welcome your comments. Simply click on "Comments" below.
Fri, 9 May 2008
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Pennsylvania ranks third worst in the nation for our production of heat-trapping gases causing global warming, and Pennsylvania cities continue to rank among the least safe in the country thanks to dangerous air pollution. But we have the tools, technologies, know-how, and work force to reverse these trends-- we simply need to change policies around how we make and use energy. Investing today in clean, renewable energy development like solar and wind, and ensuring that we conserve electricity through an array of demand-reduction strategies and efficiency upgrades, will continue to reward Pennsylvanians with lower electric bills, new family-sustaining jobs, and healthier communities.
In this video podcast, PennFuture tours the commonwealth to meet a few of our clean energy and new energy economy leaders. With critical legislation like the energy savings bill (HB 2200) and the clean energy funding bill (SHB 1) pending in the state senate, it is important to understand the vast array of opportunities that passing this legislation will bring to Pennsylvanians.
You will meet Philadelphia Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, stressing the importance of green building and energy investments that are resulting in creation of many new great green jobs for Philadelphians. Near Philadelphia, companies like Alan Rushforth's Rushforth Solar, that installs efficient and cost-effective solar thermal heating systems for hot water in large buildings, are demonstrating how small companies support scores of jobs. You will get a peek into how Westmoreland County's Solar Power Industries will be employing 400 people in the near future, and learn how the U.S. needs to catch up to its international competitors to increase our share of the exploding solar energy market, as we talk with company vice president Dick Rosey. We will see wind energy working statewide and hear from Iberdrola Renewables' Paul Copleman who describes how existing policies like the Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard (passed in 2004) have been key to attracting major new private investment and jobs from the wind industry-- but how we could be losing out to neighboring states if we don't do more now.
Focusing on how we use energy is as important as shifting patterns in how we make energy. Pittsburgh is home to the Green Building Alliance, where executive director Rebecca Flora explains that the built environment has major strides to make in improving energy efficiency. Doing so makes real sense, however, as the cost savings add up. And the demand for products and materials in the green building arena is rising quickly-- Pennsylvania is already a major supplier, but the opportunities to do more are enormous. Practical Energy Solutions' founder Paul Spiegel knows firsthand how understanding where improvement and upgrades in building systems, insulation and lighting, for example, can result in major economic savings. His company is helping commercial entities, schools, and municipalities to stop wasting energy and start reinvesting the significant money saved back into their core missions. And forward-thinking companies like Dan Orzech's Earth Rising Homes are helping to set the bar higher for everyone in the new construction business, as he brings homes to the market that have zero energy costs for the new homeowners.
These leaders and the many, many more who are part of the Campaign for Great Green Jobs know that Pennsylvania has all the right stuff when it comes to the new, clean energy economy. We simply need to act now to put the pieces together into a comprehensive, strategic set of policies. Visit our Web site to learn how you can support this critical effort today.