Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) impacts PECO's Solar Strategy, and helps create new-economy jobs in Philadelphia

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Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT)

The Earth Initiative Project is dedicated to pairing "informed" with "taking action". This story, on point

EQAT (pronounced equate) set out with this principle:

  • As Dr. Martin Luther King elaborates in Letter From a Birmingham Jail, "nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue."

and these goals:

To be part of the solution, PECO must choose to:

  • Buy solar energy credits from panels installed on suitable Philadelphia roofs in high unemployment neighborhoods.
  • Prioritize installation by companies that train and employ people of color in addition to local unionized workers.

PECO (the name comes from it's origin as the Philadelphia Electric Company) is our local utility and now part of the Excelon conglomerate.

PECO, to their credit is involved in a variety of community projects that serve causes that include veterans, multicultural, rescue animals, and more.

But when EQAT did their homework, they found that PECO, in terms of solar, did only what they were mandated to do by regulation; and that when they printed the pie chart of energy production, the solar portion showed up simply as a line - not even a sliver of the pie.  So they rolled up their sleeves.

I came late to the game but had the good fortune to take part in two recent actions. Each started with a gathering and a briefing at the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, followed by a walk to PECO's headquarters at 23rd and Market, an action taken in PECO's public lobby, and a debrief back at the church. EQAT had thought this through, members of the Philadelphia Police Community Relations team accompanied the walks, and PECO’s own security team greeted us cordially.

The first action included about 35 of us, able to turn out (at least for an extended lunch) for a mid-day action on a work day.

By the second action, things were percolating. EQAT had forged a partnership with POWER, an interfaith group with a strong presence in North Philadelphia ( powerinterfaith.org ). This action took the form of a Solar Teach In, dedicated to the "why" of #PECOchoosethefuture. Powerful testimonies were delivered by the Reverand Gregory Holston, President and CEO of OIC America; Brother John Bowie, a core member of Serenty Soular (Serenity Soular a collaborative project between Swarthmore College students and Serenity House to build the green economy in North Philadelphia); and Eileen Flanagan, the Clerk of the Board for EQAT ( eileenflanagan.com ).

There was, of course, the background wonder if the powers that be at PECO were listening. With each Action, a letter was delivered to the C-Suite, but it was hard to gauge the impact. Then, on Earth Day, PECO announced that they would be forming a Solar Stakeholders Collaborative. 

Here is the press release: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160422005610/en/PECO-Celebrates-...

EQAT could not have done better at naming this initiative, had they been invited to write it.

This from Philly.com: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/energy/20160423_Pressed_by_green_a...

Informed Action, a winning combination.

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Philadelphia, PA, USA

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Anna L Beale's picture

Online definition of 'equate' says " Equate definition, to regard, treat, or represent as equivalent: We cannot equate the possession of wealth with goodness." -but perhaps this illustrates an expansion of that meaning, where (as Im told the Friends have said..) one can 'do well AND do good'! This sounds like win all around.

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