Residential solutions, like the solar panels seen here, will have to be part of the mix, if West Chester wants to meet its energy goals.

It’s a new year and perhaps, this is the year we’ll get to work on the looming climate disaster. The federal government has rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement and set “ambitious goals” that they say will lead to, “a clean energy revolution that achieves a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and puts the United States on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050.”

Well, while the Federal government is just getting started, our local government has been staring down a similar goal for a little while now, making a pledge to move to 100 percent renewable energy way back in 2019. In case you forgot amid all the pandemic distractions, here’s your energy recap.

West Chester’s Clean Energy Plan 

Intro to the the WCA Clean Energy Future Campaign

In 2019 West Chester, along with six other area municipalities in a group calling themselves the West Chester Area Council of Governments (WCACOG), pledged to move to 100 renewable electricity by 2035 and 100 percent renewable energy for heat and transportation by 2050. They then pooled their cash and funded a feasibility study. The outcome of that study was a report by energy consulting firm the Cadmus Group which included a list of recommended actions needed in order to have any shot at reaching that 2050 goal. 

The recommendations were broken into two categories: municipal actions and community actions. 

  • Municipal actions include things like policy changes and public actions. These would include installing electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations for public use and in many cases will require legislative changes.
  • Community actions, on the other hand, are things individuals in the community can do now or in the near future. 

Last month the WCACOG launched the community actions portion of the program with the introduction of the West Chester Area Clean Energy Future (WCA CEF) campaign. The program was revealed at the community engagement kickoff meeting on January 19 with about 50 people attending.

Keep an eye out for the West Chester Area Clean Energy Future logo in Borough communications.

If you missed the meeting you can find the recording on the Past Events page. At the meeting the steering committee, volunteer representatives from each of the participating municipalities in the West Chester Area Council of Governments, presented their plan for developing four community engagement modules (Residential, Small Business, Corporate and Education). The modules will serve two purposes, Jim Wylie, West Chester’s representative on the the WCACOG steering committee, explained. 

  1. They will inform everyone in these sectors about energy purchasing and reduction opportunities we have here in greater West Chester and 
  2. They will establish a framework for listening and reacting to the concerns of all stakeholders: homeowners to renters, commuters to home office users, small business owners to corporate campuses, daycare centers to universities, and people that pay no attention to their PECO bill to people that spend up to 15 percent or more of their income on energy.

The January presentation was not only an introduction to the campaign but an invitation to collaborate with the volunteer team by helping to review upcoming modules or act as ambassadors to your neighborhood, workplace, school or carpool. If you are interested in joining this worthy initiative either on the outreach or review teams, contact the WCA CEF team to learn more

These goals can sometimes seem daunting but as Jim explained, “Energy reduction, electrification and transition to renewable energy is an opportunity for all of us.” 

He and the rest of the steering committee will explain in more detail exactly how we take advantage of that opportunity when they release their first community engagement model, the residential module, this spring. 

In the meantime, watch for their brightly colored logo in municipal communications in the coming months and short videos about the campaign.

Also, if you are feeling ambitious, here is the full Cadmus report: West Chester Area 100% Renewable Energy Transition Study and an update on the Borough’s support of electric vehicles

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