Philadelphia, June 24, 2021 – Today, as City Council officially approved the FY22 budget, a resolution co-authored by Councilmembers Derek Green (At-Large), Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), and Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large) was introduced, authorizing the Committees on Finance and Transportation and Public Utilities to hold joint hearings on the sustainability and diversification of the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW).
As the City continues to work toward its carbon neutrality goals set forth by the Kenney Administration and operates under a renewed national commitment to the Paris Climate Accord, the urgency to address and avoid further environmental impact and destruction due to global warming has never been more apparent.
Recognizing the importance of innovation in acknowledging this crisis, Philadelphia was selected as one of 25 winners of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge in 2018. This prompted the launch of a business diversification study, led by PGW and the City of Philadelphia, to identify ways to help the 180-year-old utility to evolve in a sustainable way via other services and possible energy sources.
“Climate change is a multi-dimensional issue that affects us all in a number of ways, right down to the most mundane routines that many of us take for granted,” said Councilmember Green, who chairs the Committee on Finance as well as the Philadelphia Gas Commission. “I’m grateful for the resources provided by the American Cities Climate Challenge, which have enabled us as a city to expand on our sustainability achievements and to place greater emphasis on our efforts to diversify our energy sources. I look forward to building on this work as we learn the initial findings of PGW’s diversification study this summer and use these hearings to gain invaluable input from industry experts and the public on next steps.”
PGW, which serves about 500,000 residential and commercial customers citywide, is the largest municipally-owned gas utility in the country, which centrally distributes natural gas. Councilmember Johnson, who chairs the Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities, offered his thoughts and expectations for the future hearings.
“As Chairman of City Council’s Transportation and Public Utilities Committee, it is important that Council examines the operation of the Philadelphia Gas Works to make sure the utility is doing everything it can to offer services to consumers in the most efficient way, said Johnson, who represents the Second Council District (parts of Center City, South and Southwest Philadelphia). “I look forward to holding these important hearings later this year.”
Councilmember Gilmore Richardson, Chair of the Committee on Environment, provided additional insight.
“Time is running out to stave off the most devastating impacts of climate change. We must transition to a net-zero economy quickly, but with equity and environmental justice as our first priority,” said Councilmember Gilmore Richardson. “PGW is a critical piece to the complex work of decarbonizing our built environment, and I am looking forward to our continued work together to help PGW transition to a low-to-no carbon business model. Thank you to my colleagues, Councilmembers Green and Johnson, for their leadership, to PGW for their collaboration, to the Office of Sustainability for their hard work, and to the community members who participated in these important conversations about how we create an equitable, climate-resilient Philadelphia.”
A hearing date has not yet been scheduled, but is anticipated to take place sometime this fall.