On Saturday, March 30th, Chesco residents packed the West Whiteland Township Building to learn more about renewable energy businesses in their area. PennEnvironment and Sierra Club’s Chester County Ready for 100 program hosted a 100% Renewable Energy Expo & Discussion in Exton, PA. Throughout the afternoon, over 150 Chester County residents explored clean energy and energy efficiency business exhibits to learn how they could transition their home to cleaner resources and help reduce their carbon footprint.
The event also featured a panel discussion, “Our Clean Energy Future,” which engaged attendees in a discussion about how to push our communities and the state of Pennsylvania to transition away from dirty fossil fuels. The panel featured local elected officials and energy experts who showcased the existing momentum there is to transition away from dirty fossil fuels and how our community can help.
The panel was welcomed by Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan, demonstrating her support for transitioning to 100% Renewable Energy. “Climate change is real,” Houlahan said. “It is happening, and we do cause it. It is something that as a country we, and frankly, a world, we need to deal with as quickly, as rapidly, and as aggressively as we possibly can.” Rep. Houlahan is a cosponsor of The Climate Solutions Act which calls for 100% Renewable Energy by 2035 and sets greenhouse gas emission targets to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.
The panelists, moderated by PennEnvironment’s Chester County Organizer, Jess Cadorette, engaged attendees in a discussion about the existing renewable energy projects and legislation at the local and state levels. The panel included two Chester County State Representatives Danielle Friel Otten (HD155) and Christina Sappey (HD158). The representatives were joined on the panel by West Chester Borough’s Mayor Dianne Herrin, South Eastern PA Sierra Club Chair Jim Wylie, and Practical Energy Solutions President Paul Spiegel.
Jim Wylie spoke on the momentum that’s growing throughout Chester County for the transition to clean energy; already seven townships in the county have passed resolutions committing to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Seven more are currently considering the resolution. “Southeastern Pennsylvania is leading the country in Municipal commitments to 100% renewable energy. Community leaders and elected officials are working together to see that these commitments become reality.”
West Chester Borough Mayor and energy specialist Dianne Herrin added her expertise to the panel discussion about her experience with regional energy planning and how her own borough of West Chester has already committed to 100% Renewable Energy by 2050.
State Representative Danielle Friel Otten, an avid advocate for the environment, has been a vocal proponent of renewable energy. “As climate change threatens our children’s futures, pipelines and other oil and gas infrastructure threaten the safety of our communities, the values of the homes we’ve worked hard for and destroy our natural resources, the time is now! The transition to 100% Renewable Energy is not just a political mandate, it is a moral imperative.”
Paul Spiegel, the president of Practical Energy Solutions spoke to how the private sector is promoting clean energy and can continue to help municipalities and citizens achieve the desire for energy that doesn’t harm our climate.
State Representative Christina Sappey noted, “I am very pleased to see the current focus on our environment and climate change. We have a responsibility to next generations to take immediate action to protect and preserve what we’ve done right, correct what we haven’t and implement strategies that get us to 100% renewable energy. It’s for these reasons I am honored to do whatever I can to work with our environmental advocacy partners towards this goal.”
Cadorette agreed: “Yes, the science is clear: the climate is changing. But we have the solutions! They’re standing around this room. We have the technology at our fingertips. We even have the public with us. We just need to build the political will.”
The resounding takeaway of the panel was to get involved. The panelists stressed that elected officials at all levels of government need to hear from their constituents if they’re going to take bold climate action now and vote to power our society through 100% renewable energy.
The expo featured 15 local clean energy and energy efficiency businesses who exhibited their services and joined in the discussion. PECO and Swing Green educated attendees about how they can monitor their energy usage and reduce their consumption. Local solar installers like Belmont Solar, Somertyme LLC, and Evoke Solar educated homeowners about easy and affordable ways to power their home or business with solar panels. Green Mountain Energy, Inspire, and The Energy Co-Op provided easy options for homeowners to switch their energy bill over to renewable energy providers.
Exhibitors at the event included: