Book Smart

The city releases its guidebook for solar projects

In June, the city debuted its highly anticipated Guidebook for Solar Photovoltaic Projects in Philadelphia, an element of Philadelphia’s participation in the Department of Energy’s Solar American Cities Partnership.

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News Alert: The Energy Caps Come Off

Prepare yourselves: In January 2011, electricity rates in Philadelphia will increase, if not skyrocket. Back in 1997, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a deregulation measure that capped utility rates for consumers in preparation for allowing competition—or “Energy Choice”—in the market. PECO’s cap will expire next year, but citizens in other areas of the state are already feeling the heat from rising bills. The caps for PPL Electric Utilities, which services 25 percent of Pennsylvanians, expired January 1 of this year. The company estimates customers’ monthly bills will increase by 29.7 percent (18.4 percent for small businesses and 36.1 percent for mid-size businesses). These rate hikes make it more important than ever to retrofit and weatherize homes and businesses.

For information on this complicated set of changes, visit

News: Isle of White

RetroFit Philly gives Philadelphians a chance to win free energy upgrades 

It seems impossible that, in a few short months, Philadelphians will be sweating through their shirts, but it’s true. Energy costs are sure to be a concern this summer, and small changes make a huge difference.

This is the thrust behind RetroFit Philly’s Coolest Block Contest, an initiative sponsored by the City of Philadelphia, the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA) of Philadelphia and the Dow Building & Construction business group. The winners will receive energy audits and white roofs for their entire block, free of charge.

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News Flash: A New Solar Panel Plant Will Bring 400 Jobs to the Naval Yard

The Naval Yard is set to welcome HelioSphera, the latest addition to the city’s sustainable scene. The two-year-old, privately-held company is based in Athens, Greece and manufactures solar panels. They use a process licensed from Oerlikon Solar, a Swiss company, to produce Micromorph thin-film photovoltaic panels, which are rapidly gaining share in the solar-cell market because of their low cost.
Micromorph modules perform in low light, partial shading and higher temperatures, resulting in above-average energy yields. Thin-film solar cells do not produce as much electricity as traditional crystalline silicon solar panels, but they are much cheaper to manufacture.
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News: Harvest Time

With help from a USDA grant, PHS Launches the Community Grower’s Alliance
by Lee Stabert

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Over the three-year lifespan of the grant, PHS will use the money to expand City Harvest, its expansive urban food growing program, through the creation of the Community Grower’s Alliance. 

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