WEST CHESTER—Chester County residents will have two dozen open houses to choose from for the Clean Energy Tour scheduled on Oct. 19 thanks to the community response over the last two months, according to the organizers from Chester County Ready for 100.
The tour is part of a nationwide series of solar and clean energy tours throughout the month of October. Based on the number of entries, the tour organizers created four distinct circuits covering the northern, eastern, central and southern sectors of the county. “We wanted to include as wide a range of examples as possible and yet make it accessible to everyone in the Chester County,” said Kara Thorpe, one of the tour organizers from Spring City.
Now in its 24th year, the National Solar Tour inspires people across the country to make sustainable energy choices. The cost of solar and other renewable energy generation has dropped significantly in the last eight years and is becoming more of an obvious economic decision. Over 75 percent of onshore wind power and 80 percent of utility scale solar expected to be built by 2020 will provide electricity at a lower price than the cheapest generation from new coal, oil or natural gas, according to an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report.
The Chester County Planning Commission, Representative Christina Sappey and both Senator Killion and Senator Dinniman’s offices helped identify local leaders in the move away from polluting energy. The residents, school and businesses that are opening their doors want to demonstrate that efficiency and solar are not simply theoretical concepts. Rather, successful businesses like Viking Brewing, Tri-M and Dansko, farms like Marlborough Mushrooms, educational centers like Camphill Village Kimberton and municipal facilities in East Marlborough all see efficiency measures and solar as practical and affordable technologies that can reduce utility bills and help clean the air.
“I am opening my home because I know that I was empowered by seeing what others had done,” said Paula Kline, Westtown resident and volunteer with Chester County Ready for 100. “Over time we’ve gone solar, installed a high efficiency electric heat pump, and we now drive an electric vehicle. All allow me to reduce costs, support energy independence, protect against power outages, and reduce carbon emissions.”
Other homes on the tour are built to be efficient from the get-go. Known as “Passive House Design”, these are low energy buildings that require much less energy for space heating or cooling than conventional homes and help households save money.
Mary Westervelt of the Tredyffrin Environmental Advisory Council decided to participate because she sees the benefit of an informal tour of green and innovative buildings and transportation options. “It encourages neighborhood and local government conversations addressing the growing need for clean energy. Seeing real life examples can make a big difference.”
Local governments have been taking the initiative to pass resolutions to transition to clean energy for electricity by 2035. Nationally, one in four Americans now lives in a community committed to clean energy. Of the more than 130 municipalities, 20 are in southeastern Pennsylvania.
“We hope to see our elected officials, local government staff, business owners, school administrators and homeowners taking this opportunity to learn from an array of practical and economical solutions available right now," said Will Williams, the West Chester Borough Sustainability Director, who will be giving a tour of a municipal building.
To make it easy to get oriented, there will be 4 kick off locations around the county where you can pick up a map and a suggested route. The Southern loop starts at Romeade Farm, home of East Marlborough Supervisor Robert McKinstry. While the event is free, those interested should register and select which of the kick-off sites they wish to start at. Register here https://www.nationalsolartour.org/localtours/chester-county/
Ready for 100 supports local communities in the transition to clean renewable energy through passing local resolutions, education and opportunities to take action in your home, school, business or house of worship. The effort is part of a national program sponsored by the Sierra Club.