As rebels and campaigners for climate justice, EQAT set out to call PECO into action on the climate crisis. For the past six years, we’ve been pushing PECO to invest in our communities through local solar and green jobs. Because of our bold vision and actions, PECO has taken significant steps that have boosted the local solar economy and put some investment in job creation for black and brown community members. Even though these steps are incremental to the bigger vision we believe PECO can hold, it’s clear that the Power Local Green Jobs Campaign has gotten PECO moving.
To date, PECO has begun holding periodic Solar Stakeholder Collaboratives for local agencies and solar companies, made profound updates to its solar application process, upgraded the grid to make it more solar ready, created and expanded its solar department, invested in local solar initiatives, and given a $100,000 grant to OIC (The Philadelphia Opportunities Industrialization Center) for job training. Most notably, PECO has committed to, and is currently implementing, a new program that ensures that the solar they’re required to provide is procured by local solar projects. Six years ago, no one would have imagined PECO taking any of these steps. None of this would have been possible without EQAT’s leadership in the Power Local Green Jobs Campaign.
As rebels, we’re in the business of expanding what is possible. We break through walls that seem impenetrable – chipping away until it gives, and an opening appears. But rebels operate in a network – advocates, organizers, and helpers all play a part in widening the hole we create and ensuring that whatever change we make is here to last. EQAT, through the Power Local Green Jobs Campaign, has chipped away at PECO – our work has made so much more possible. And as a result, PECO is at the brink of making real and lasting changes that could help address its part in the climate crisis and ensure that historically excluded communities in our region are accounted for in a solar transition. Taking this next step requires a different kind of pressure – specifically from our allies and partners who have rallied behind our vision for PECO and who can push them from different angles.
As a community that honors nimbleness and good strategy, we have decided that EQAT’s skills around nonviolent direct action are no longer best used to pressure PECO. We both acknowledge that our leadership in the PLGJ campaign has moved PECO in ways we never expected and that PECO is moving too slowly. Our efforts will be more effective somewhere else, in the face of the climate crisis.
Though we’re leaving the Power Local Green Jobs Campaign, this doesn’t mean PECO will be off the hook. The effort we’ve put into Power Local Green Jobs has built power for both EQAT and our campaign partner POWER. This campaign has allowed each organization to set its sights on bigger targets that will ultimately impact the landscape PECO operates in. POWER, along with a diverse set of partners, intends to continue pressing PECO to change its course by directing their energy towards PECO’s regulator the Public Utility Commission. We’re excited to see POWER take the lead in this effort, and will be ready to support their work when the moment calls.
For EQAT, we will be turning our attention to a bold effort targeting PECO’s parent company’s (Exelon) largest investor. EQAT is joining an international campaign targeting Vanguard – the world’s largest investor in coal, #2 funder of major climate-harming projects across the globe, and whose headquarters are in Philadelphia’s backyard. We believe directing our nonviolent direct action “rebel” energy to the Vanguard Very Big Problem Campaign will be a stronger response to the climate crisis. We’ll be taking the next month to finalize our plans, but keep your eyes peeled for more ways to get involved – we hope that you will join us in this new fight. Until then you can read more about the Vanguard’s Very Big Problem Campaign here.