Chester County Climate Action Plan draft – 2021

A draft climate action plan for Chester County has been released for public review and comment. The updated Climate Action Plan expands on the 2010 Greenhouse Gas Reduction report, providing an updated greenhouse gas emissions inventory as well as an action plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency throughout the county. The plan was prepared by the Chester County Planning Commission in partnership with the County’s Environmental and Energy Advisory Board.

A public meeting on the proposed Climate Action Plan will be held on March 4, 2021 at 6:30 pm via Zoom. The agenda for the public meeting is as follows:

  • 6:30 – Welcome (Chester County Commissioners)
    Landscapes3 – Protect Goal (Brian O’Leary, CCPC)
    Why do we need a Climate Action Plan? (Jess Cadorette, EEAB Chair and Paul Spiegel, EEAB Vice-Chair)
  • 6:50 – Climate Action Plan Overview (Carol Stauffer, CCPC)
    Plan Goal – Reduce our Carbon Footprint
    Action Plan Highlights
  • 7:15 –  Public Comment/Q&A (Attendees)
  • 7:50 – Next Steps – Where do we go from here?  (Jess Cadorette, EEAB Chair)
  • 8:00  – Adjournment

View the draft Climate Action Plan.

Register for the public meeting.

You can leave comments about the draft plan below or by emailing ccplanning@chesco.org.

Please Note
Comments will be accepted through March 31st.
It may take three to five business days for comments to be publicly visible.
Only comments specific to the plan will be approved and made visible.
Email addresses will not be visible, however, names will be shown as submitted.
Comments submitted via email will be posted below anonymously. 

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10 comments on “Chester County Climate Action Plan draft – 2021

  1. Jessica

    On Waste Management: I live in Tredyffrin, which has a relationship with retrievr (https://retrievr.com/) an organization that does home pick-up of clothing and electronics which they recycle. I know a few other townships in the county have relationships with retrievr. It would seem a quick and easy thing for the County to align with them so that everyone could partake of this service. One of the best features is that they accept textiles for recycling that cannot be donated, and otherwise end up in landfills — like socks with holes, ripped curtains, sheets with tears. Retrievr says on their site that 85% of discarded clothing ends up in landfills. This would seem to be a good program to help preserve space in our landfill, with minimal work on the part of the County itself.

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  2. Donna Delany

    Because Pennsylvania does not regulate forestry, I would strongly recommend enhancing incentives to people who woodlands to NOT harvest trees. Due to deer overbrowse and invasive plants, we are not seeing regeneration of woodlands in Chester County. Working to bring a carbon credit plan here – creating ways for small woodland owners to group together to sell carbon credits – that would be a high value activity. Every time a forest is logged, biodiversity plummets. I can connect you with the research articles behind that statement, if you want. The Old Growth Forest Network has good information.

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  3. Chesco Planning Post author

    I offer the following feedback on the climate action plan: Note – I use the term ‘township’ to include all local governments.

    1. I believe the most important goal of this county climate action plan committee should be the creation of a county wide Power purchase agreement (PPA ) for renewable energy such that ALL townships and cities and boroughs can purchase renewable electricity and not be forced to have each entity build solar arrays at considerable cost with long payback times.

    In addition, this county wide PPA(s) would quickly create a huge reduction in greenhouse gases across the county. This would be the biggest carbon footprint the county could do.

    I note many if not most townships (even if they have a “100% renewable energy goal”) will find the capital outlay expense of solar arrays (to offset most of their electrical use) will be huge barriers and thus will be very slow to implement.

    This is true in our small township where the cost to install an (20 kw) array that will generate 28,000 kw-hr/ yr would cost approx. $58,000 after about $10,000 in Pa & Fed rebates. This would take 12 – 14 yrs for payback. That is a long time to justify in budgets. And that is a small 20 kW array.

    All solar arrays need maintenance and cleaning. There will be panel and micro inverter failures. And trees that must be cut down. All public issues that must be addressed. It is much less expensive and less of a burden for townships to purchase their electrons as used from a PPA and avoid large capital expense.

    It is noted that West Chester and five other boroughs are working on purchasing their own PPA. This is very useful information for the County; BUT we should understand if this will “use up” so much electricity that the rest of county electrical use may not support another PPA.

    This climate committee should survey electrical usage across the county as well as township interest in supporting a PPA to better understand the potential energy needs.

    2. All townships and boroughs should be required to report 2019 as baseline energy use for all energy sources and every 2 yrs issue updates reporting greenhouse gas emissions; both absolute and relative to 2019 baseline.

    3. The Agricultural section of the report states: “Community-wide Engagement Chester County will reduce community-wide agriculture and forestry GHG emissions and increase carbon sequestration by implementing the following objectives: Grow and preserve open spaces and natural areas.; Support local food production and the agricultural community. “

    – These are like saying “you support motherhood and apple pie”. I believe you are overlooking the large energy footprint from farming operations.

    – e.g.: there are lots of greenhouse operations in the county. These all requires significant energy to heat the greenhouses. Normally these burn oil or propane or natural gas with large GHG emissions.

    – e.g.: Mushroom farms use huge amounts of energy (most mushroom operations use over one million Kw-hrs/ yr); but only a very few have installed solar panels to partially offset their electrical demand. Moreover the industry is secretive about their large energy use. While these are not controlled by the county they represent a huge potential.

    The county should start discussions on how the mushroom industry could and should reduce their huge carbon footprint.

    – e.g.: How many farms are digesting manure into renewable methane? How many should?

    – e.g.: It takes lots of energy to heat commercial chicken barns. What are these companies doing to reduce their carbon footprint?

    – Every commercial operation and farming operations larger than 20 acres should be surveyed for their energy use and their plans for reducing their carbon footprint.

    4. Many images and charts in the draft are many years out of date. These should all be at least 2019.

    5. You should add – A graph or picture showing the total energy consumption in America by various sources (electric; nat gas; nuclear; coal; propane; etc.) and a graph – chart showing the fuel sources for just electricity generation. These would greatly improve the value of the report by providing graphic depictions of where the country is vs where it needs to be.

    6. The public needs to know if your energy metrics are being meet. However, there is no discussion of how the county energy use and upgrades will be audited and assessed for progress and reported to the public. This is in addition to reporting all Greenhouse gas emissions at least every 2 yrs.

    An auditing program for all energy using facilities and vehicles and operations is critical for determining that efficiency changes and renewable energy use are actually occurring. This information must be made public. A 3rd party auditor is suggested.

    7. All townships could learn a lot by knowing the details of the geothermal at Hibernia mansion. Many may wish to consider installing geothermal as they upgrade HVAC equipment.EG: What size is the geo unit? Cost? Details on number of wells and equipment? Efficiency rating of ‘furnace’? Contractor name? Discounts?

    8. The report states: • Installed energy efficient appliances at the prison and Pocopson Home.
    – That is nice but appliances are a small % of the energy use. What about the energy use of HVAC systems? When will these be upgraded to be much more energy efficient? And what is the time line to move to renewable energy?

    – The report states: • Installed solar panels and high efficiency HVAC systems at the Downingtown and Oxford District Courts. How were these details shared with all townships? So they can learn about “high efficiency HVAC” for their operations?

    9. How were the learnings from the “Guaranteed Energy Savings Act (GESA) Initiatives” shared ? “The County completed an energy-savings performance contract from 2015 to 2018 using the Guaranteed Energy Savings Act for 313 Market, Pocopson Home, Government Services Center, the prison, the youth center, and Henrietta Hankin Library. The work included lighting retrofits, water conservation, fuel switching and steam valve and pipe insulation as well as installation of cooling tower sub metering. Outcomes of the GESA program include the following…”

    Finally, the report sets great goals noted below: but per my comments above – these goals need actions. Currently they are just words on paper:

    “ Establish and support an Environmental and Energy Advisory Board Actions Impact Lead Entity Priority Timeframe F1 Recommend best environmental and energy practices in the areas of buildings, facilities and operations; fuels, vehicles, and transportation; food; responsible purchasing; housing; energy sources; air quality; stormwater management; natural resource protection; and climate change. Co-benefits: Jobs and economic prosperity, Public health and environmental quality A EEAB High Immediate F2 Identify environmental and energy policies the County has adopted and recommend ways to promote and educate about Chester County’s environmental and energy initiatives. Co-benefits: Public health and environmental quality A EEAB Medium Short-term F3 Identify and recommend voluntary actions, projects, and programs for municipalities, businesses, non-profits, and other partners to implement County environmental and energy policies. Co-benefits: Jobs and economic prosperity, Public health and environmental quality A EEAB Medium Short-term F4 Recommend environmental and energy related actions, projects, and programs to the Board of Commissioners for implementation. Co-benefits: Public health and environmental quality A EEAB High Short-term F5 Implement community-wide climate awareness outreach and incentives strategy. A EEAB Medium Short-term F6 Explore the creation of a Sustainable Energy Advocate Office or Climate Action Office to lead, coordinate, educate, and engage.”

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    • Chesco Planning Post author

      Thank you for your comment and suggestions. Regarding comment #4: Please note that the most current greenhouse gas emissions inventory available from DVRPC is from 2015. The next inventory update will use 2020 data.

      Reply
  4. Marc Arot

    Who are these ICF and ICP folks that you are basing all of your temperature and rainfall projections from? Are you basing all of these plans on bad math and bad data? Projections like this have been used for the last 40 years and they seldom came true (Remember ”global cooling” danger in the 1970’s? Or “An Inconvenient Truth” where we all have should have been under water by now?). Please list other sources you have explored for this data, perhaps the ones that show a less gloomy and possibly more realistic outcome of temperatures and rainfall.

    Reply
    • Chesco Planning Post author

      Thank you for your comment. The data used for climate projections and greenhouse gas emissions were provided through the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Office of Energy and Climate Change. Information about the climate projections can be viewed here: https://www.dvrpc.org/EnergyClimate/CCMIT/ Information specific to Chester County, in which both “optimistic” and “pessimistic” projections are shown, can be viewed through the county links at the bottom of the webpage. As noted at the top of the webpage, IFC is the consulting firm that DVRPC worked with to develop the climate projections. The reference to ICP in Chester County’s plan was a typo which has been corrected in the on-line draft.

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