The Public Utility Commission Monday provided tips for those residents who may lose electrical power in the current snow storms--
When the lights go out:
— Call your utility. Don't expect that others in your neighborhood have already called. Your utility can provide you with the most up-to-date information on when to expect power to be restored.
— Check on elderly neighbors and those with special needs who might need additional assistance.
— Use a phone that does not require electricity to work. Remember a cordless phone won’t work without electricity. Cable and VoIP service may not work. However, customers should familiarize themselves with their in-home equipment and locate the battery backup that will allow for a 911 call, if needed.
— Keep your cellular phones charged. A cellular phone or corded phone on a landline may work if you are using traditional phone service.
— Turn off lights and electrical appliances except for the refrigerator and freezer. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary "surges" or "spikes" that can damage equipment. After you turn the lights off, turn one lamp on so you will know when power is restored. Wait at least 15 minutes after power is restored before turning on other appliances.
— Only use a flashlight or battery-operated lanterns for emergency lighting. Do not use candles.
— Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer. Food can stay cold for a couple of hours if the doors remain closed. For longer outages, plan to place refrigerator and freezer items in coolers with ice. If in doubt, throw it out. The state Department of Agriculture has more information on food safety.
— If you are going to use a generator, do not run it inside a home or garage. If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a generator to a home's electrical system. Generators also should not be run near any open windows or other areas where carbon monoxide may travel into the home such as air vents.
Driving during a power outage:
— Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion. If traffic lights are out, treat all intersections as four-way stops. It’s required by law for safety.
— Stay away from downed power lines and sagging trees with broken limbs.
Downed power lines:
— Don’t touch or get near any fallen lines.
— Stay away from objects or puddles in contact with downed power lines.
— Notify the utility company.
— Never try to remove trees or limbs from power lines.
Consumers should contact their electric utility if they experience an outage: Met-Ed/Penelec/Penn Power/West Penn Power: 1-888-LIGHTSS 1-888-544-4877); PPL: 1-800-342-5775; PECO: 1-800-841-4141; UGI: 1-800-276-2722; Duquesne: 888-393-7000; Citizens: 570-524-2231; Wellsboro: 570-724-3516; and Pike County: 570-724-3516
The PUC will share storm-related updates on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Search PAPowerSwitch on Facebook or follow the PUC on Twitter – @PA_PUC. Electric companies also will be sharing information on Twitter. You can follow them: @Met_Ed; @Penelec; @penn_power; @W_Penn_Power; @PPLElectric; @UGI_Utilities; @DuquesneLight; @PECOconnect; @ORUconnect and @Citelectric. Consumers should not use social media to report outages or share account information or addresses.
Gov. Tom Wolf Monday signed a disaster emergency proclamation to enable state and local authorities to respond to any unmet needs as quickly as possible as a snowstorm drops snow across much of the state. Higher amounts are expected along the eastern edge of the state.
“I’ve signed this declaration because we want to be able to send state resources wherever they’re needed as quickly as possible,” said Gov. Wolf. “We have multiple state agencies working at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to monitor weather conditions across the state.”
The proclamation authorizes state agencies to use all available resources and personnel, as necessary, to cope with the magnitude and severity of the situation. The time-consuming bid and contract procedures, as well as other formalities normally prescribed by law, are waived for the duration of the proclamation.
The State Emergency Operations Center, located at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency headquarters outside Harrisburg, is staffed by personnel from multiple state agencies, including but not limited to the departments of Transportation, Health, General Services, Human Services, and Military and Veterans Affairs as well as the Pennsylvania State Police, Turnpike Commission, Public Utility Commission and the American Red Cross.
It is important to note that the proclamation does not restrict vehicular travel on commonwealth roads, but motorists are encouraged to delay unnecessary travel and heed local road closures that may be in place.
The House Democratic Caucus Monday issued this policy statement on climate change and setting a goal of carbon neutrality—
The world must become carbon neutral by mid to late century to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, according to a United Nations report released in November.
And with Pennsylvania producing almost 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, it has a duty to work toward carbon neutrality.
Rather than increasing the production of natural gas, Gov. Tom Wolf and the new legislature must work toward reducing all fossil-fuel use and shift to renewable energy.
Over three-quarters of the energy consumed in Pennsylvania comes from fossil fuels — coal, natural gas, and oil — while only about 4 percent comes from renewable sources like wind and solar, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
In recent years Pennsylvania has created a friendly environment for natural-gas production while doing little to increase renewables. It has foregone the imposition of a severance tax on the natural-gas industry, extended the largest tax break in state history to natural-gas cracker plants, and provided millions in grant money for the conversion of fleet vehicles to natural gas.
While natural gas has the environmental benefit of displacing dirty, carbon-dioxide-emitting coal- fired power plants, it also has significant climate change drawbacks: The combustion of natural gas also emits significant quantities of carbon dioxide.
Additionally, the main component of natural gas is methane, another potent greenhouse gas. Fugitive methane emissions pose a significant climate risk as well. Finally, the abundant supply and low price of natural gas has impeded the growth of wind and solar by making them less cost competitive.
If Pennsylvania wants to achieve carbon neutrality, the Wolf administration and the new legislature will have to enact policies that reduce all fossil-fuel use and increase renewables. Here are some things the Commonwealth should do:
— Increase its alternative energy portfolio standard. This is the percent of electricity Pennsylvania electric distribution companies like Peco must obtain from renewable sources. Currently, Pennsylvania lags behind other states, requiring only 8 percent of its electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. New Jersey requires that 17.88 percent come from renewables by 2021.
— Reinstate the Sunshine Solar Program. This popular program, which provided rebates to homeowners and small businesses that install solar systems, was discontinued at the end of 2013 due to lack of funding.
— Modify Act 129. Changing this law would encourage electric distribution companies to further reduce customer demand for electricity and extend these demand-reducing incentives to natural-gas distribution companies.
-- Regulate methane. To reduce fugitive emissions, the state must enact more stringent methane regulations.
Let’s hope that the new governor and legislature will accept their responsibility to work toward carbon neutrality for Pennsylvania.
The DEP Citizens Advisory Council adopted a resolution honoring Janet Keim who served for eight years on the Council. Here is the text of the resolution—
WHEREAS, Janet Keim served with distinction as a member of the Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection from her initial appointment by John M. Perzel, Speaker of the House of Representatives, on August 22, 2006, until October 31, 2014; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Keim supported Council in a number of important and strategic roles, including her active participation on Council’s Administrative Oversight Committee and Water Committee; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Keim’s experience as a local government official provided invaluable insight which informed Council’s understanding of key environmental concerns facing the Commonwealth’s municipalities; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Keim’s leadership in advocating for the protection and preservation of the Commonwealth’s water resources, particularly the Little Lehigh Creek Watershed in Lehigh County, was instrumental in influencing Council’s priorities and strategic objectives; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Keim’s dedication to conservation, civic participation, and environmental stewardship serve as an example of public engagement and community service and enhanced Council’s ability to identify and address key environmental concerns and challenges facing Pennsylvania; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Keim represents the highest ideals of volunteerism and displays
leadership, professionalism, commitment, integrity and dedication; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Keim’s commitment and dedication, which were demonstrated by her active participation at full Council and committee and regional meetings, strengthened Council’s capacity to meet its mission, which includes ensuring that all people of the Commonwealth enjoy the benefits included in Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Citizens Advisory Council to
the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection expresses its sincere appreciation to Janet Keim for her dedication, commitment and contribution of time and energy to ensure a better environment for all Pennsylvanians.
Frederick serves as GIS/IT Support Technician for the Lehigh County Authority. Soderberg is the former Pennsylvania Secretary of the Budget and currently serves as Vice President of the Friends of Pine Grove Furnace, one of PPFF's 38 affiliated chapters.
“We are excited to have the enthusiasm, knowledge, and skills sets that Gus and Mary bring to the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation,” said Marci Mowery, president of the Foundation. “They will be critical in helping us to ensure that there is a place—and an experience—for everyone in Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests. We'll look to Gus to bring a 'Millennials'" perspective to our programs and Mary's extensive financial experience and her involvement with one of our very active and successful chapters will provide practical leadership to our decision-making."
The PPFF Board of Directors unanimously elected Frederick and Soderberg, and they take their places on the panel in January 2015.
Gus Frederick: Gus served as an intern for the Foundation during the spring of 2012 as he pursued his Masters of Science in Geoenvironmental Studies at Shippensburg University. His service to the Foundation during that time made his election to the Foundation board a simple question; and his obvious skills and technical ability meant his immediate selection by the Lehigh County Authority for his position there was equally unsurprising.
Mary Soderberg: Mary has served the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a budget and financial advisor since the late 1980s culminating in her appointment as Secretary of the Budget in July 2008 and Budget Advisor to the Office of the Auditor General in 2013. Fortunately, Mary's love of the outdoors led her to the Friends of Pine Grove Furnace where she has helped to coordinate successful volunteer events including the popular Furnace Fest each fall.
This Blog is a companion to www.PaEnvironmentDigest.com, the weekly online newsletter published by Crisci Associates, Harrisburg, PA.
I can be contacted at 717-234-1716 or by sending email to: DHess@CrisciAssociates.com.
I served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection from 2001 to 2003, as staff in the Pennsylvania Senate and in the former Department of Environmental Resources for over 30 years.