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How Energy Efficiency is "Lighting Up" the Streets of Philadelphia

April 6, 2011 - 11:01am


President Obama has made building a secure, prosperous energy future a top priority. Last week, he outlined a plan to strengthen energy security in a speech at Georgetown University. Then on Friday, he traveled to a UPS shipping facility in Landover, Maryland to announce a major milestone for the “National Clean Fleet Partnership”: Five of the largest domestic shipping companies have made commitments to reduce gasoline use in their fleets by incorporating electric vehicles, alternative fuels and fuel-saving measures into their daily operations.

And today, the President is holding a town hall meeting just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Gamesa Technology Corporation, a manufacturer of large-scale wind turbines, to further discuss our energy future. President Obama has proposed an ambitious, but achievable, goal of generating 80 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. This includes sources like wind, produced in part by Gamesa turbines, as well as other renewables, natural gas, clean coal and nuclear power.

As the President outlined last week, securing our energy future will require our nation to increase our renewable energy portfolio, decrease our dependence on oil and implement energy efficiency measures in home and buildings all over the country. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be spotlighting five communities across the country that are helping make our country more secure – five communities that are “winning the future” today.

And naturally, first up today is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The City of Brotherly Love certainly hasn’t been shy about scaling up their energy efficiency efforts, namely through the Greenworks Philadelphia project. As part of the project, the Philadelphia Streets Department is converting 58,000 yellow and green traffic signals to LED's, in addition to replacing the approximately 27,000 red LED lights that have come to the end of their useful life. The project will use approximately $3 million in Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant funds, matched with $3 million in PECO (Public Education Capital Outlay) funding, and will save the city approximately $1 million in electric costs each year.

But Philadelphia’s commitment to energy efficiency isn’t just about saving money. For some it’s hitting a little closer to home. “I was looking for a really good job, and I got one,” says DeLain Best, a Street Department Technician employed by the City of Philadeplphia. “I don’t have a problem with it at all. Every day is excellent for me.”

Other goals of the larger Greenworks Philadelphia project include by 2015 generating 20 percent of citywide electricity from renewable sources, diverting 70 percent of solid waste from landfills, and reducing vehicle miles traveled by 10 percent from 2005 levels.

Stay tuned to the Energy Blog and follow us on Twitter @ENERGY for more stories like this over the next few weeks.