The event was sponsored by Citizens for Pennsylvanias Future (PennFuture) and included Roger Clark, manager for technology and policy at The Reinvestment Fund; Felicia Coward, executive director of Friends Neighborhood Guild; Mike McKinley, owner of Solaris Inc., a small solar company; and John Hanger, PennFutures president and CEO.
Unless the legislature takes quick action, 2007 will be a lost year for Pennsylvanians, said Hanger. We will be no closer to providing families and businesses with the tools and technology they need to use energy smarter. We will be at least two winters away from being able to protect households from higher heating bills. We will be facing another summer with dangerous peaks of electricity use that leads to higher electricity bills and possible brownouts or even blackouts. And we will have lost $1 billion in private investment in our growing renewable energy industry.
Our energy problems are getting more serious every month, said Hanger. Funding renewable energy, supporting biofuels, boosting energy conservation, and cutting peak electricity demands with smart meters have been discussed and debated since February, but so far, no action.
Its time for bold, immediate action, and that means the legislature should act before they leave on holiday, continued Hanger. Oil prices are near or at $100 a barrel and gasoline is over $3 a gallon a full dollar over the price when the energy legislation was proposed; the ice cap dramatically disappeared in the Arctic this summer, with climatologists predicting worse to come; and electricity rate caps have already ended in four areas of Pennsylvania and will end in the rest of Pennsylvania in the next two to three years. Conserving energy, cutting peak electricity demand, and making electricity and transportation fuels from renewable energy are the only ways to protect our economy and environment from crippling price shocks. We need action now.
The press conference marked the first local appearance of Santa Claus, who has been issuing a daily list of the naughty and nice to highlight the need for immediate bold action on the environment. My reindeer wont be able to deliver presents if theres no snow, said the icon. We must have strong energy policy in place this year, or Christmas itself is endangered, along with my North Pole home.