Fri, 9 April 2010
On April 6, 2010 PennFuture's Federal Policy Manager Joy Bergey hosted a Webinar for Congressional staff members and clean energy businesses focused on how enacting new federal energy policies will create more good-paying, non-exportable jobs in Pennsylvania and nationally.
A leader among states, Pennsylvania enacted the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act in 2004 and passed an energy savings mandate requiring energy conservation (Act 129) in 2008. These forward-thinking policies have already created thousands of new jobs for Pennsylvanians. The Webinar exlpored how enacting a federal Renewable Energy Standard (RES) and Energy Efficiency Resources Standard (EERS) would stimulate economic growth and job creation here at home, in short order. An RES and EERS would also save consumers money on their energy bills, reduce our dependence on imported oil, and cut pollution. The webinar presenters come from companies who already have added jobs in Pennsylvania who spoke directly to the benefits that federal legislation would deliver. Presenters were:
PennFuture supports a comprehensive, three-pillar approach to federal climate and energy policy, including a strong cap on heat-trapping pollution emissions that are causing global warming; developing new renewable, clean energy production that will shift our economy away from fossil-fuel dependence; and requirements for energy conservation and efficiency that will help save consumers money and create a host of new domestic jobs. To learn more about our work, and to join our efforts, visit our Web site.
To download any of the presentations from this Webinar, see our Cool Pennsylvania pages.
Fri, 26 March 2010
Pennsylvania became a leader in the renewable energy industry after we passed the landmark Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act in 2004. That policy helped to drive major private investment from both international and homegrown companies who created thousands of family-sustaining jobs, including manufacturing.
We have the opportunity to expand and ramp-up the requirements in the law for more new, clean renewable energy from solar, wind and geothermal. Legislation is pending in both houses of the General Assembly that, if enacted, will bolster our position as a national leader, spur new investment, create even more great green jobs-- and would create the largest reduction in global warming pollution in Pennsylvania's history.
In this video podcast, we revisit some of the reasons why the Pennsylvania legislature must act now to keep our clean tech economy growing. We feature Philadelphia City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown, who covers why green jobs are so essential in our urban centers. The same holds true statewide, as every corner of the Commonwealth stands to gain from the new jobs, more affordable electricity prices, and better environmental quality that come from more renewable energy production.
Fri, 29 January 2010
Just like the song about Kansas City, everything’s up to date in Erie. Home to Pennsylvania’s most visited state park, Erie is also home to a lot of green energy companies, and one of the new green economy’s biggest boosters, State Representative John Hornaman (D-Erie).
Fri, 22 January 2010
n the past two weeks, PennFuture President and CEO Jan Jarrett has traveled throughout the state, holding breakfast meetings with business leaders and elected officials on the need to pass the Clean Energy and Green Jobs legislation.
This week’s podcast features the presentations by Jan, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger, and State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) at the Wednesday, January 20 breakfast in Pittsburgh. The three speakers detail the need for the legislation and outline what business leaders can do to help pass it.
PennFuture works every day to make a difference for Pennsylvania’s environment and economy. Isn’t it time to join us and make a difference yourself? Go to our secure website to join PennFuture, and make sure you sign up for our publications. And remember, you can make sure you don't miss any podcasts by subscribing to them through iTunes.
Fri, 6 November 2009
Last week, PennFuture's Director of Outreach, Christine Knapp, participated in a study tour of Germany for regional leaders from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and North Carolina. The tour was sponsored by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Transatlantic Climate Bridge Initiative and organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
You may have already read Christine's blog postings; this podcast gives you a chance to listen to others on the tour. You’ll hear from Ellen Pope, director of the comparative domestic policy at the German Marshall Fund, who talks about why the Fund organized this tour. She explains that the states were chosen because they are older industrial states heavily dependent on fossil fuels. She hopes the Americans could learn how Germany is making the transition to clean energy, put those lessons to use when they get home.
You'll then hear from State Senator Dan Clodfelter from Charlotte, NC; Susan Perry Cole, president and CEO of the North Carolina Association of Community Development Corporations in Raleigh; Doug Esamann, senior vice president of strategy and planning for Duke Energy in Charlotte, NC; and Lavea Brachman, co-director of the Greater Ohio Policy Center. Their discussions of what they learned and what they will do differently at home are very revealing.
PennFuture works every day to make a difference for Pennsylvania's environment and economy. Isn’t it time to join us and make a difference yourself? Go to our secure website to join PennFuture, and make sure you sign up for our publications. And remember, you can make sure you don't miss any podcasts by subscribing to them through iTunes.
Wed, 28 October 2009
by Christine Knapp, Director of Outreach
On our second day in Leipzig, the delegation was treated to a professional tour guide, who showed us around the city center. It seems every step in this city has a historical reference- and with just a few years to go until celebrating its 1000th (that's 3 zeros!) anniversary, it's easy to understand why. From St. Thomas Church where Bach served as choir director for 23 years, to the place where Russian tanks once stood, to the amazing architecture restored and rebuilt after the wars, Leipzig is a history buff's dream.
But it is also, at its core, a well planned city. Walkable and bicycle-friendly, the city center is also currently building additional stops for the light rail. Major industries in the area include automotive (BMW and Porsche), healthcare and biotech, media and creativity, and power and environment.
As we learned from several speakers, renewable energy has become a recognized cluster- employing 50,000 employees in solar and 25,000 in wind in the the greater Leipzig region. Leipzig also has two biomass plants using wood that is only provided through sustainable forest management- not through clear-cutting, as well as grass, straw, manure and other materials.
In the afternoon our group split into two, with half visiting Q-Cells AG and my group visiting Juwi Solar and Waldpolenz Solar Park. About an hour drive into the German countryside, the solar park does not look like much upon first glance. Built upon a military air base built under orders from Hitler and later used by the German Democratic Republic, the property is dotted with bombed out hangars, barracks and other buildings. Once inside, however, 528,000 individual thin film solar panels line a plot of land 2 kilometers by 600 meters. Solar as far as the eye can see, and the plant produces enough electricity to power 12,000 homes.
With 130 euros in up front capital costs, the plant broke ground in April of 2007 and was completed in December of 2008. Juwi has a 20 year lease with the local town, but expects to fully recoup costs in 13 years. Hundreds of electricians and construction workers were employed in the building of the plant, but only about 20 workers, mostly locals, are employed full-time now. They provide an academy for new workers, to the tune of 10,000 euros per employee to fully educate them on energy systems.
The surrounding community has been supportive of the facility, as other proposed plans included a shooting range and an amusement park, both of which were opposed due to noise. Juwi has learned an important lesson informing residents and using it as an educational opportunity.
Some additional interesting facts:
- Juwi contracts with First Solar to provide the arrays, which were manufactuerd in Phoenix, Malaysia and Frankfurt.
- They have a plant in New Jersey, and hope to expand further into the American market.
- There is relatively low maintenance as the arrays are mostly self-cleaning. Only problems come from local sheep that break in and chew power lines and the occasional wayward golf ball from a near by range.
- They do work with some individual homes and small businesses although it is not their focus. There is no need to encourage these homes to do energy efficiency first because they can earn more money by selling excess energy into the grid than they pay for energy. In this way, the feed in tariffs have not only helped this industry grow, but have made it affordable for people to invest in it.
Unfortunately, my camera battery died today! I have great pictures to share, as do other delegates, but they will not be available just yet.
Tomorrow: On to Hamburg!
Category:Energy -- posted at: 1:59 PM
Tue, 27 October 2009
by Christine Knapp, Director of Outreach
Today, our delegation traveled by train to the city of Leipzig, about an hour from Berlin. Transportation enthusiasts would be delighted to see the grandiose train stations of both cities, and train systems that run very much on time through clean stations bustling with commerce.
After arrival and check-in, our group was treated to a lunch meeting with Gisela Kallenbach, a former member of the European Parliament representing the Green Party.
Gisela gave us a brief introduction to the city of Leipzig and the region. Leipzig has a long and storied history, serving as the home to such cultural luminaries as Bach and Goethe among others. But like many former manufacturing cities in the US, Leipzig suffered from a period of decline while shielded behind the Iron Curtain, and even after the wall was torn down.
Gisela herself became involved in political action during the months leading up to November of 1989. She organized peace prayers at local churches that helped motivate those who were previously too fearful to publicly demonstrate. And once the wall came down, Gisela was called to run for local office to help her city and her people recover and develop a strategy of revitalization. She ran with the emerging Green Party because of her own suffering due to environmental degradation. But she also explained that the Green Party represents more than environmental equality- human rights and the ideals of sustainability, economic, social and environmental balance.
After Gisela's inspiring presentation, we traveled about 90 minutes to the industrial town of Jena, to the headquarters of Schott, a leader in solar technology for 51 years. We were guided in a tour by Grit Petholdt-Guhne, the Head of Human Resources. Our focus here was learning about building a workforce for twenty-first century jobs, such as is done by Schott and its sister corporations.
Schott employs 700 people in their solar division, the largest percentage in their 1200 total employee workforce. They produce concentrated solar, crystalline photovoltaic and thin film photovoltaic. In the US, you can see their work at their location in Albuquerque, New Mexico and at their largest PV installation at Stillwell Station in New York.
After the fall of the wall, companies like Schott in East Germany had a hard time attracting a skilled work force due to lower wages and other factors. In order to combat this, Schott engaged in a marketing campaign in which they provided additional health benefits, work from home flexibility and child care for families, gym and museum memberships as well and other opportunities to attract workers.
But most impressively, Schott worked with the state government to create a robust worker training program on site. Here, students as young as 16 are hired into a dual apprenticeship where they spend 30 percent of their time in theoretical education at school and 70 percent of their time in practical education programs at the business itself. The state government provides funding for the training, and the company pays 100 percent of the monthly salary (600-800 euros).
Lastly, we had dinner at Auerbachs Keller, an elaborate
restaurant made famous by Goethe, who frequented the wine bar. We were able to view the cellar in which, according to legend, Faust rode a wine barrel with the help of the devil himself. Of course we got to taste a bit of the local rose wine, which was dry but delicious!
Category:Energy -- posted at: 2:59 PM
Mon, 26 October 2009
by Christine Knapp, Director of Outreach
We jumped right into our day by meeting with R. Andreas Kraemer, Director of Ecologic Institute, a private not-for-profit think tank for applied environmental research, policy analysis and consultancy. A wealth of information, Mr. Kraemer is well versed in sustainable development and environmental policy.
Mr. Kraemer gave our delegation an overview of German and European Union climate and energy policy, and how it differs from US policy. The first and most startling difference from the US is that all parties have found consensus on energy and climate issues and work together to meet goals collaboratively agreed upon. German politicians are also more willing than American ones to enter into imperfect legislation, knowing that it can and will be fixed later.
Rahm Emanuel famously said: "Let no good crisis go to waste", and Germany took that advice to heart during the energy crises of the 70s. Facing the crisis first in the mid-70s, Germany did little to react. But the reoccurrence later that decade and into the 80s was the impetus needed to start breaking their dependence on foreign energy.
In 1986 the first Federal Environmental Ministry was created with the intention that its policy directives would help business development- a very different approach than traditional environmental work in the US.
Since then 280,000 jobs have been created in the renewable energy industry alone, with almost half just in the last four years. Mr. Kraemer noted that it takes time to build a workforce that large and that forcing it too quickly can be damaging. Organic growth vs. a replication model (a la Starbucks) will ensure sustainability.
The German "game-changer" was the introduction of feed-in tariffs, started in 1991. These tariffs ensure utilities capital subsidies for renewable energy projects, and are credited with accelerating wind and solar production.
So what can the US learn?
For starters, the potential for wind and solar in Germany ends where it begins in the US- so it is certainly possible for us to achieve and exceed their progress so far.
Mr. Kraemer also suggested that a recession is a good time to make transitions. With an unemployed workforce, new training can be more easily done, to ready workers for emerging jobs. When there is less competition among businesses, there can be an effort to help the "greenest" ones succeed over the others.
Our host also suggested that President Obama review and implement the blueprint put forward by John Podesta and Bracken Hendricks as part of his economic development strategy.
We were also treated to meetings with Jorg Meyer of the Renewable Energy Agency- an agency supported by the federal government and renewable energy companies. We also took a tour of HOWOGE, a public housing project that is Germany's largest low-energy apartment building. And lastly, we enjoyed dinner with local experts from government, non-profit, and private sectors. What a day!
Category:Energy -- posted at: 2:32 PM
Mon, 26 October 2009
Day 1: Jet lagged first impressions
by Christine Knapp, Director of Outreach
I have been fortunate enough to be invited to join a study tour of Germany through the German Marshall Fund, which is a non-partisan American public policy and grant-making institution dedicated to promoting greater cooperation and understanding between the United States and Europe.
This study tour brings together leaders each from Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, all states with strong industrial and manufacturing heritages and ones particularly affected by the economic crisis, to explore the ways in which German cities and regions have designed and implemented policies, technologies, and infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and stimulate economic growth.
Our first stop is in Berlin, just days away from the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. While many of the tour participants were still arriving, Matt Mehalik from Sustainable Pittsburgh and I walked from the hotel to the Brandenburg Gate, where President Reagan famously gave his "tear down this wall" speech, and where the wall later first began to crumble. We also walked around the former Reichstag, now Bundestag, parliamentary building. Many pock marks are still visible on the building, but the surrounding plaza and memorials are beautiful.
Later in the evening Ursula Soyez of the GMF led a brief walking tour through East Berlin, along which we saw public bike sharing, rain gardens and plentiful park space, flower boxes from every window, and light rail.
As we viewed statues of Marx and war-damaged buildings completely renovated, we learned of plans to entirely reconstruct a Prussian palace torn down by the German Democratic Republic. It was an interesting discussion on how cities deal with their histories- good and bad- in their architecture and urban planning.
Check back for regular updates.
Category:Energy -- posted at: 9:25 AM
Fri, 16 January 2009
Each year, the Pennsylvania Farm Show takes Harrisburg by storm. And each year, there are more and more exhibits displaying the growing renewable energy technologies that Pennsylvania’s farmers and institutions are employing and marketing. This year’s theme, Keeping Pennsylvania Growing, is designed to showcase our new rural renewable energy economy.
Our podcast this week comes from the Farm Show, where PennFuture’s Tanya Dierolf interviews Messiah College’s Michael M. Zummo about the college’s program to take used oil from the campus’ dining facilities and convert it to biodiesel for a variety of uses, including campus transportation. There’s only one problem – Mike’s program can’t keep up with the amount of oil used to fry the campus food!