PHOENIXVILLE >> Phoenixville is the latest U.S. community — and the first in Pennsylvania — to make a commitment to transition to 100 percent clean energy, according to the Sierra Club.
The Phoenixville Borough Council made the pledge to use renewable energy at its Sept. 12 meeting, becoming the 44th U.S. municipality and the first in Pennsylvania to make the 100 percent clean energy commitment.
The council unanimously approved a measure establishing a goal of transitioning entirely to renewable sources of electricity by the year 2035.
The resolution calls on the community to prioritize locally produced carbon-free, pollution-free renewable energy from sources like wind, solar, and small-scale hydro, according to Eric Lombardo of the Sierra Club.
“Phoenixville is proving that local community action is the way forward in creating global environmental and energy sustainability solutions,” said Phoenixville Green Team President Mark J. Connolly.
The Green Team, which promotes healthy, sustainable households and businesses in Phoenixville, was one of the local groups advocating passage of the resolution.
Some 20 borough residents and local activists offered support for the measure during a public hearing before the council’s vote. The council voted 7-0 to support the clean energy initiative.
“I am extremely happy that the resolution received unanimous support from Phoenixville’s Borough Council. Being aware of the impact to tomorrow from the decisions we make today is part of our responsibility as members of council,” said Borough Council President James Kovaleski. “This resolution represents a decision that will be a benefit to future generations as it starts to plan for a borough which is powered by renewable resources that are sustainable into the future. There is still work to be done, but this is a great start.”
Carol Armstrong, steering committee facilitator of The Way Forward, a group of Phoenixville activists involved in the resolution, praised the council for its forward-thinking action.
“Phoenixville borough has taken action and can provide leadership to the surrounding communities to look for ways to switch to renewable energy,” Armstrong said. “Farmers, gardeners, landowners, and other land stewards are noticing how climate change is affecting their lives and work. Activists hope Phoenixville is the first of many local communities to push for use of renewable energy.”
While Phoenixville is the first community in the state to adopt the resolution, environmentalists say they will work to see many more municipalities join in.
“The Sierra Club is working with several communities in Chester County that want to set aggressive and achievable goals to transition to 100-percent clean renewable energy,” said Jim Wylie, a Sierra Club volunteer on the Ready For 100 Campaign in Chester County. “Regional collaboration, leadership and stakeholder involvement is what we need to keep us on a path to a clean energy future.”
Phoenixville Mayor Michael Speck had previously endorsed a 100 percent clean energy vision, according to Lombardo. Other Chester County elected officials have spoken out in support of the same goal in their communities, including Mayor Jordan Norley of West Chester and Mayor Josh Maxwell of Downingtown, Lombardo said.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced his support for a goal of transitioning Philadelphia to 100-percent renewable energy in June. At the time, Kenney represented the 100th mayor to sign this pledge, joining the growing coalition of the Mayors for 100% Clean Energy initiative, according to the Sierra Club.
More than 150 mayors, including 11 from Pennsylvania, have joined the campaign, Lombardo said.
The Sierra Club is America’s largest grassroots environmental organization in the U.S., with more than 3 million members and supporters. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.