Posted in clean renewable energy, no fossil fuels, solar

Testimony at Environment Committee in support of a Solar Incentive Bill

On Tuesday June 11, 2019, bill 190378 to establish a Solar Panel Incentive Program was  discussed at Committee on the Environment.

Current members of this Committee — Reynolds-Brown, Bass, Blackwell, Gym, Taubenberger, Green, Parker

Prior to this hearing, there was this related post on the Philadelphia Energy Authority site: Councilwoman Reynolds Brown Introduces Legislation to Establish a Solar Rebate Program for the City of Philadelphia.

Many people spoke, all in support of this bill, notably: Christine Knapp, Laura Rigell, Spencer Wright, Joseph Kiss, Juan Sanabria, Laila Riley, Edward Robinson, Matt Walker, Mitch Chanin, Meenal Raval.

Many also wrote letters of support, notably: Chris Spahr, Dan Dillon, Barry Moore, Frank Foley, Samuel Park, Mark Bortman, Micah Gold-Markel, Douglas Davis, Julia Hillengas.

Below is my testimony.


Hello, My name is Meenal Raval. I’m a resident of Mt Airy and am active with the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 team. I’m here today to speak on bill# 190378, to establish a solar panel incentive program.

We need a rapid transition to renewable energy, so of course we support this bill. A bill that would offer residents a 20c per watt rebate for rooftop solar projects installed for the next 6 years. The bill would also offer a 10c per watt rebate for commercial rooftop solar projects installed within the same time frame.

What is unclear is how this rebate program will be funded. While we wondered where we were getting the $2.5 million — we hear that it’s already cut to 1/5th the fund! Why are we limiting this program before it’s seen the light of day?

In addition to a rebate incentivizing rooftop solar, we would like to have a comprehensive conversation about something we’ve asked this Committee for months — the Ready for 100 resolution.

A resolution with the goal of transitioning all of Philadelphia’s energy uses, both public and private, to 100% clean and renewable electricity by 2035, and to 100% clean and renewable heating and transportation by 2050.

Adopting such a resolution, with an agreed upon time frame, would lead to an action plan and help put things like today’s bill in the context of a larger plan. We have a draft copy of an Action Plan to offer this Committee.  An Action Plan would help prioritize, even triage, our work ahead, so we could focus on reducing the most emissions, and improving air quality for the most people.

A Ready For 100 resolution would put the Citywide Energy Vision and the Municipal Energy Master Plan developed by the Office of Sustainability; Council’s pledge to uphold the Paris Accord plus the 70 megawatt solar project in Adams County — yup, all of these — in the context of an aggressive, but achievable, goal.

A Ready for 100 resolution would, of course, have to include education – what each resident and business could do to shift their energy needs.

Adopting this resolution would provide an important guiding principle for all future decisions about the energy we use, how we invest City funds, which projects to choose, and where necessary — find new solutions.

A Ready for 100 resolution would also require that we review and revise our policies in light of this resolution and action plan. For example… If new vehicles are being considered, this resolution would remind us that they need to be zero emission vehicles. If roofs are being replaced, this resolution would remind us that we need to consider the viability of rooftop solar – for both public and private projects. If a road is being repaved, this resolution would require that we consider pedestrian and cyclist use for this same roadway.  If we’re buying leaf blowers and street sweeping trucks, this resolution would have us consider low-carbon options such as investing in people and brooms.

This bill offering a rebate to those installing rooftop solar is one we support whole heartedly.

When we consider the climate crisis in every decision we make, when we consider future generations in every decision we make, it becomes obvious that we can no longer encourage new fossil-fuel projects that have recently been the focus of our climate action – the SEPTA gas power plant, the PGW LNG facility and the soon to be voted on trash & recycling program that would continue to incinerate our trash.

The Ready for 100 resolution has been adopted by cities and towns across the US, including Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Atlanta, Orlando, LA and 18 townships in the Philadelphia suburbs. The Ready for 100 resolution is is very much needed for Philadelphia.