In Springfield Township, we are excited about moving to a clean energy future and have recently taken two important steps in this direction. First, we are proud to be the first municipality in Montgomery Country to sign on to the “Ready for 100% Clean Energy” nationwide initiative.
In Springfield Township, we are excited about moving to a clean energy future and have recently taken two important steps in this direction. First, we are proud to be the first municipality in Montgomery Country to sign on to the “Ready for 100% Clean Energy” nationwide initiative. We are committed to getting to 100% clean, renewable electricity by 2035, and 100% clean, renewable energy for our vehicles and building heat by 2050 - both for municipal operations and across the broader community. Second, as the Chestnut Hill Local reported in December, the Springfield Commissioners individually expressed their unanimous support for Pennsylvania’s proposal to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
What is driving our actions? The answer is climate change and air pollution. Our Springfield Township Residents want cleaner air and a more stable climate for their families and neighbors, and the sooner the better. We stand to benefit by moving to cleaner power sources as soon as practically feasible.
Our Responsibility to Act
Pennsylvania has an outsized carbon footprint contributing to climate change. Our electric power sector is the fourth dirtiest in the nation and we are the third worst state in terms of greenhouse gas pollution. It is time to replace Pennsylvania’s dirty power plants that burn fossil fuels and move to clean, fuel-free options like wind and solar power. It is important to note that neither Chestnut Hill nor Springfield Township has any of these dirty fossil fuel plants, but the impact of pollution generated by any means affects all of us.
With the support of local municipalities, and people and organizations of influence, Pennsylvanians can move forward with the RGGI initiative. The benefits we are likely to reap are reflected in the experience of states that have adopted RGGI over the first 11 years of the program. The participating RGGI states have cut carbon pollution by a remarkable 47%, outpacing the rest of the country by 90%. Economic growth in these states has outperformed the rest of the country by 31% during this same period. So it is not surprising that RGGI is projected to deliver the following benefits to Pennsylvania in the next decade: adding $1.9 billion to our economy, including more than 27,000 new jobs, and reaping more than $6 billion in health benefits resulting from 30,000 fewer hospital visits because of reduced incidents of asthma and other respiratory diseases, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Let’s also look at examples of the fiscal and environmental benefits that Springfield taxpayers will gain from our “Ready for 100% Clean Energy “ program. Just a year ago, we completed an extensive energy audit of the Springfield municipal buildings on Paper Mill Road. Even though these are new buildings with state-of-the-art technology, we found straightforward and inexpensive ways to improve the energy usage in our buildings, which we implemented immediately. Once we get back to normal post-pandemic functions we can expect to save $16,000 and avoid 208,000 pound of carbon pollution every year.
In a similar vein, we are now “greening up” our township vehicle fleet, which accounts for almost 61% of our municipal greenhouse gas emissions. This year, we will buy our first hybrid cruisers for the Springfield Township Police force and look forward to continuing this initiative in years to come if our initial purchases prove to be successful. We can expect a cruiser to pay for itself in less than two years, and then save the taxpayers $3,500 in fuel costs while avoiding 25,000 pounds of carbon pollution every year going forward.
We are excited that we are moving forward with these initiatives and are happy to share what we in Springfield are learning about how to provide for our clean energy future. Please feel free to contact the Township at 215-836-7600 with any questions.
Baird Standish is President of the Springfield Township Board of Commissioners.
Peter Wilson, is a Springfield Township Commissioner and liaison to the Environmental Advisory Commission.