Clarke’s Bill Seeks Ways To Battle Electric Hikes

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COUNCILMAN Darrell Clarke looks into construction methods used toreduce electric consumption as he works to keep PECO rate hikes from slamming Philadelphians.

Councilman Darrell Clarke has convinced his City Council colleagues to pass legislation that could help all Philadelphians battle the lifting of energy rates which end Dec. 31.
Effective Jan. 1, PECO and other energy generators are expected to raise rates to consumers. But Clarke hopes to mitigate the damage that will be done by the hefty increases.
The caps were established in 1996 pursuant to the Pennsylvania Electricity Generation & Consumer Choice Act to help ensure consumer energy prices were reasonably maintained and could not be arbitrarily increased by sole providers without competitors, to unconscionable levels. Energy markets will be deregulated and the field of energy provision will once again become open to competitors.
The City’s current energy provider said it will increase rates to make up for years of undercharging. With caps removed, price hikes are predicted to increase from 20-50%, and numerous stranded costs could be passed on to consumers.
Philadelphians have for years used one energy generator and one provider, Exelon and PECO respectively.
The region is now about to be bombarded with several new providers from all over the country, each claiming to provide a better and more customer-friendly product. The City, its businesses, nonprofits and residents may find themselves overwhelmed by the choices being provided and would benefit from some guidance in this multifaceted new energy world.
In anticipation of these things to come, Clarke, City Council’s Majority Whip, introduced and Council ultimately passed legislation creating the Philadelphia Energy Authority. The Authority will be a publicly-owned, nonprofit energy authority in Philadelphia. It will not “run” anything but rather serve as a guiding “authority” for the City and its inhabitants, both commercial and residential.
The Authority’s board will be comprised of energy experts, recommended by Council and appointed by the Mayor, who will serve in their capacities without compensation. This Authority structure allows the City to plan out beyond four years and create long-term strategies that will benefit the City and its inhabitants well into the future.
The Philadelphia Energy Authority, can among other things:
Possibly use the City’s collective buying power to leverage the lowest rates for the City, School District, SEPTA and other entities;
Offer help in controlling cost to small and medium-size business and negotiate the best possible rates for them, without actually buying or selling a single kilowatt;
Allow longer weatherization and conservation programs than the City Charter allows;
Evaluate and harness, when sensible, the City’s waste energy and other resources to create energy savings (using the biogas from the Water Dept. or the power of the water released from the PWD plants or establishing in stream generation or a peaking plant at PGW to both level PGW and the City’s load are a few of the possibilities);
Help in controlling energy use, thus possibly allowing the City to offer economic-development rates to entice businesses to move into the city, help develop co-generation plants and distributive power and prepare for a future that may include municipal residential aggregation;
Meet publicly, to discuss energy issues and to open the discussion to the public, reinforcing democratic principles and providing a vehicle for innovative companies and thinkers to make proposals.
Clarke believes Philadelphia is uniquely positioned to become a national leader in managing one-need for itself, its citizens and its businesses.
“Deregulation of electricity is fast approaching in Pennsylvania,” said Clarke. “I believe the City should be in the best position to be protected from any deleterious effects that could occur, and if possible to utilize the most -efficient energy we can. Our legislation puts us in the unique position to create an innovative approach which will bring other cities to us to learn.”

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