Member Perspective: Christopher Lewis

The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia

Blank Rome Partner and Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion Christopher A. Lewis provides his perspective and commentary on the following question for The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, published on February 7, 2019.

How is the City of Philadelphia leading by example as it relates to transitioning to clean energy?

Clean energy can be great public policy. Recently, under the leadership of Mayor Jim Kenney, City Council President Darrell Clarke, and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) assisted the City’s Energy Office in financing a 70 megawatt solar facility to be built in Adams County by an affiliate of the developer Community Energy, Inc. The PEA will enter into a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with the solar facility to procure 22 percent of the electricity needs of Philadelphia’s municipal buildings, a major step toward the City’s goal of obtaining all its power from renewable sources by 2030.

An important benefit of the project is that it is budget neutral, locking in the City’s price for the power at rates that are affordable and predictable, eliminating market and weather uncertainty. Designed to generate 156,000 megawatt hours of energy in its first year of operation, the project will eliminate more than 4 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its life and set a pattern for other governmental entities and large nonprofit institutions to follow in sourcing renewable power.

Although the solar plant is being constructed some distance from the City, the PEA and the City are committed to ensuring that Philadelphia residents and businesses participate in the economic opportunity. The developer has committed to partner with the PEA to allow at least 15 of their young adult solar trainees to get on-the-job training on this project and an Economic Opportunity Plan (EOP) also requires the developer to use best efforts to incorporate minority, women and disabled-person owned businesses into the project. Talson Solutions, LLC, will assist the developer in fulfilling the EOP and conducting job fairs for sub-contractors and the workforce in Philadelphia County. Construction begins in the summer of 2019.

Reprinted with permission from The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.