The Reading City Council in Pennsylvania has unanimously voted to adopt a resolution establishing a goal of powering the entire community with 100% renewable energy by 2050.
With this resolution, the City of Reading is now committed to transitioning “municipal-owned facilities and equipment to clean, renewable electricity by 2030 and 100% clean, renewable energy for heat and transportation by 2040, and a community-wide transition of the electricity supply by 2035 and “in all energy-use sectors including transportation by 2050,” according to the Sierra Club.
To reach those goals, the city is creating a Municipal Energy Master Plan to transition city facilities to 100% clean energy. It also sets the goal to create a Clean Energy Plan by July 2020 in partnership with the local community and surrounding municipalities. Priority will be given to energy-efficient and low-cost solutions in order to benefit residents, particularly those that are “low-income and historically marginalized.”
Stephanie Andersen, a creative writing professor at Reading Area Community College and a local Sierra Club volunteer, started “Reading for 100,” a local effort that is part of the Sierra Club’s national Ready for 100 campaign, to advocate for 100 percent clean energy in Reading. In addition to localizing the name of the campaign, Andersen understands the effects of climate change on the local and the personal.
In pushing for this resolution, Andersen and the Reading for 100 team are joined by Make the Road PA, a regional Latinx community advocacy group, and the Sunrise Movement, a nation-wide group of youth leaders advocating for climate action. Andersen has worked closely with Xavier Care, a climate justice organizer for Make the Road, Troy Turner, a local Sunrise leader, and Shana Rose, a local sustainability professional, among many other passionate local leaders. Bill Vitale, a green architect living in Reading, spoke before council, describing how the city can make the transition to 100% renewable energy.
All the community members and local representatives who gave gathered around Reading for 100’s vision see this resolution as the first step towards a healthier, cleaner future for Reading and Berks County.
“Together, we take action. Working with my community for the change we all know is necessary has been humbling, inspiring, and transformative,” said Andersen. “In fact, I now have faith that Reading will be a leader in removing one of the largest sources of carbon emissions as well as the impetus for its own growth–evolving in a way that continues to benefit and connect us all.”
“This victory sets the stage for a full and fair employment economy to ensure that everyone benefits from these changes. No community is more economically vulnerable than people most historically oppressed. These communities — communities of color, low-income communities, and more — will benefit first from the economic changes of this plan,” added Xavier Care, Climate Justice Organizer for Make the Road PA.