Smart-Meter Reading: A Local Energy Update

In honor of the highly-anticipated January expiration of the PECO rate caps (hopefully, you’ve switched to CFLs by now), we're offering up the 411 on energy-related news.

(-) Turns out rate caps weren’t saving us much. The price of electricity in November was nearly a third more in the Philadelphia area than in the average American city. And the same was true last year. Source:

(+) In its first month, EnergyWorks, an “informal” program to help businesses and homeowners reduce overall load, received hundreds of requests for information, proving that yes, we are taking the energy situation seriously. The program responds by streamlining all that complex energy info into a simple, digestible package. Instructors encourage the basics: energy assessments, insulation, CFL bulbs and programmable thermostats. Like many of Mayor Nutter’s initiatives, this one has a dream. According to Next Great City, EnergyWorks officials “hope to create educational programs, outreach efforts and online campaigns to bring new building management solutions and development projects to the region.” Best of Luck. Source: Next Great City

(+) The Energy Cooperative, a licensed Electric Generation Supplier, offers 100 percent local, renewable electricity at a price that’s lower than PECO’s average. The Co-op’s program, EcoChoice, has been signing members since December 2010 and sources from hydroelectric dams, wind farms in northeastern and western Pennsylvania and rooftop solar purchased from their members. A cost chart is available on their site. If you buy now (membership ranges from $15 to $30 annually) rates stay fixed through 2011. Source: The Energy Cooperative

(-) Digital signs cost our city a great deal of energy. A new report by Gregory Young, LEED AP, claims that one sign can use as much energy as 30 homes, and encourages the city to switch to LED lighting. On a positive note: The moving sign atop the PECO building switched to LED in 2009. Source: Plan Philly

(+) Last month, Philadelphia broke ground on the first public solar photovoltaic system. The 250 kW system, located at Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant, is part of Solar America Communities, a program of the United States Department of Energy. The ribbon cutting ceremony is slated for the spring. Source: Next American City