PLGJ Campaign

Photo by Rachael Warriner

In 2015 EQAT launched its second campaign —Power Local Green Jobs (PLGJ)

The campaign used nonviolent, direct action to demand that PECO, Pennsylvania’s largest utility company, make a major shift to locally generated solar power that would benefit low income communities and communities of color. The campaign brought together EQAT and POWER, a broad multi-faith network of 60 congregations, to address three critical issues: underemployment, crumbling infrastructure, and climate change.

PECO profited $1 million dollars every day from the dirty electricity it sold — condemning low income communities, communities of color, and everyone to immeasurable losses in health, economy, and quality of life. We knew that 20% local solar could start to heal the damage from dirty electricity. It was past time for sensible energy that allowed us all to flourish.

Our campaign called on PECO to spur local jobs and support the regional economy by purchasing 20% solar energy in its service area. Doing this would create thousands of good paying jobs for local workers, lower electricity bills for families, schools and churches, and turn PECO away from fueling devastating climate change.

Photo by Rachael Warriner

We demanded that PECO:

  • Dramatically increase the purchase of solar power so that 20% of PECO’s electricity would come from solar by 2025.
  • Ensure all 20% of PECO’s solar power was produced locally with a priority towards both community-owned distributed solar and ownership by low-income communities in PECO’s service area.
  • Prioritize installation by local workers paid livable wages, especially from high unemployment areas in its service area.
  • Push for community solar in PA, as well as any other legislation and regulation that ease the way to a solar congregations, bringing the total amount of money removed from PNC Bank by EQAT’s “Move Your Money” campaign to $3.6 million.

Frequently Asked Questions

A lot. 

According to the PA Department of Environmental Protection, the combination of fuel savings (free sunlight) and anticipated cost savings (avoided public health and environmental damages) could result in a net benefit of over $1.6 billion annually from 2018 to 2030 if PA reached the modest goal of 10% solar by 2030.

But who sees those benefits? Another study looked more specifically at North Philadelphia, and predicted solar roofs could produce $45 million in direct net benefits without counting health, climate, or employment. When those benefits are included, the impact rises to around $340 million.

Most importantly, solar produces jobs– a lot of them. Solar produces the most jobs of any power source by far, jobs that can be located in every neighborhood. In addition, solar installer is projected to be the fastest growing job in the US over the next 10 years.


Pennsylvania’s Solar Future Plan: Strategies to increase electricity generation from in-state solar energy.

Green Design Isn’t Just a Luxury. It Could Save Cities Billions.

Fastest Growing Occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Solar Employs More People In U.S. Electricity Generation Than Oil, Coal And Gas Combined

No. PECO will never admit it, but solar is highly valuable for the grid. However, because of the complicated way utilities make money, this added value doesn’t increase PECO’s profits. This is why the company fights so hard against solar, against the interests of ratepayers and our whole future.

What’s worse is that PECO’s dirty power puts ratepayers at risk for significant rate increases due to changes in fossil fuel prices. The dirty secret is that utility shareholders won’t lose any money in that case, only we do. Local solar is an opportunity to keep rates predictable and keep profits local.

A recent study of PECO showed that at worst, with no other programs or planning, a major increase in solar could increase rates by 2%. However, this ignores common-sense policies like implementing energy efficiency at certain times of day. By maximizing the value of solar, PECO can lower rates on top of the benefits of more jobs and improved health.

The value of solar.
The value of solar for PECO and its ratepayers.

A green electric grid will require investment in the whole region, bringing thousands of jobs, local energy resilience, and cleaner air for all of us. 

However, without good planning, that investment is likely to come to wealthier areas first, and solar jobs are already disproportionately held by white men. This solar divide unconscionably worsens rather than addresses economic and racial injustice.

Deliberate, large-scale investment in neighborhoods and towns with high-unemployment could help correct the historic inequity and ensure that the benefits of clean electricity come to those who are overburdened by pollution and economic inequality. PECO must lead the way.

Black Work Matters: Green Jobs Report.

Behind the scenes, PECO has been undermining and road-blocking every important effort to move PA forward. 

It’s true that PECO has made some positive adjustments on its solar customer-service, and has made a small grant for solar jobs training. Unfortunately, PECO is also standing in the way of community solar. While blocking two community solar bills, HB531 and SB705, that would be essential for access to affordable solar, PECO has supported a “Local Solar” bill which is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It would reimburse solar producers about half of what is now required, decimating jobs and preventing communities from seeing the profits of solar investments.

PECO is also blocking the expansion of the renewable energy utilities are mandated to provide. This legislation, the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, ends in 2021 and only requires 8% renewable energy, including the vanishingly small amount of 0.5% solar. PECO needs to cooperate with the effort to expand this legislation. PECO must reach 20% local solar by 2025, and 100% clean energy shortly after.

PECO claims the company sees the need for clean electricity, but that the Power Local Green Jobs demand is too large and too rapid. However, the science is very clear about the enormous damages and loss of life that will result from delay. PECO cannot be permitted to inflict this damage.

PECO must commit to a strategy measured against objective benchmarks. This commitment should be in line with the science in terms of minimizing climate destruction, and must prioritize economic benefits for the people hurt most by climate damages rather than lining Exelon’s shareholder pockets. We believe 20% local solar by 2025 is the first step.

Climate change and health in Pennsylvania
Even the most optimistic scenario for climate change is dire

Renewables have proven their profitability for corporations. Major utilities across the country have committed to an entirely carbon-free future, including Arizona Public Power, Avista, Duke Energy, Green Mountain Power, Idaho Power, Public Service Company of New Mexico, PSEG, and Xcel Energy. The technologies are here; PECO is dragging behind.

Unfortunately, these goals lack a commitment to address ongoing economic and racial injustice. This is why we are demanding PECO put jobs and communities first with local solar.