Nearly two years ago, Mayor Jim Kenney announced plans to transition to complete renewable energy within 20 years. This week, he signed a bill that marks the first major step toward making good on that promise.
The bill, which was introduced by councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and passed at a meeting earlier this year, allows the city to enter into an agreement with the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) to buy nearly a quarter of the city’s electricity at a low fixed price.
Thanks to the bill, a 70-Megawatt solar facility will be built in Adams County. For the next 20 years, Philly will buy all electricity that the site produces, which amounts to about 22 percent of the city’s electricity supply.
In a statement on the agreement this week, Kenney said the bill’s stipulation—that Philly will buy the electricity at a fixed price—makes, “good economic sense.”
“(The bill) helps to boost regional job growth in the renewable energy sector,” he said.
It also starts to fulfill a goal that Kenney’s administration set in the spring of 2017, following the White House’s decision to reject the Paris climate accord. Kenney, along with hundreds of other mayors across the country, publicly committed to combatting climate change and denouncing the White House’s decision.
In Philly, that meant a promise to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. At the time of Kenney’s promise, energy used by buildings and industry in the city accounted for 79 percent of carbon pollution in Philly.
Philly was by no means the only city committed to that goal. Over 200 mayors across the country have pledged to transition their cities to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, according to the Sierra Club, who spearheaded that pledge.
“This project is among the largest of its kind, and demonstrates Philadelphia’s leadership on climate action,” said Emily Schapira, executive director of the Philadelphia Energy Authority.
Construction on the solar facility is expected to begin in the fall of 2019, with Philly reaping the benefits of that energy as soon as 2020.