Labor, Environmental Leaders Release Report and Case Study on Pennsylvania’s Energy Transition

Labor and environmental leaders in Washington, Pennsylvania released a report on southwestern Pennsylvania’s energy transition, as well as a case study that looks at the lessons learned by the closures of Hatfield’s Ferry and Mitchell Power Stations.

September 30, 2015

WASHINGTON, Pa (September 30, 2015) – Labor and environmental leaders in Washington, Pennsylvania today released a report on southwestern Pennsylvania’s energy transition that examines the region and how it will be impacted by the transition, as well as a case study that looks at the lessons learned by the closures of Hatfield’s Ferry and Mitchell Power Stations. The report and case study reflect on the energy sector’s transition that is underway in the state and around the country.

“America’s energy sector is in the middle of a transition as we carry out the important, and necessary, work of addressing climate change,” said Khari Mosley, the regional program manager for the BlueGreen Alliance in Pennsylvania. “To accomplish this goal in a manner also tailored to create jobs, we must learn from the past, and incorporate policies to protect workers and communities impacted by this transition to ensure that the new jobs created are quality jobs with middle-class wages and good benefits.“

The landscape of the U.S. energy sector has been shifting for many years. Last year, coal accounted for 39 percent of total U.S. electricity generation. That is down from 50 percent during 2003-2008. A combination of factors are forging a new reality where lower natural gas prices, rising coal costs, the growing presence of energy efficiency and renewable energy are driving the market.

The case study, America’s Energy Transition: A Case Study in the Past and Present of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Power Sector, looks back at the Hatfield’s Ferry and Mitchell Power Stations shutdowns and examines the potential to take those lessons and turn them into good policies that can protect workers, build up the local economy, and ensure that no one is left behind in this energy transition.

“We need to take the lessons learned from the Hatfield’s Ferry and Mitchell Power Stations shutdowns in 2013 and apply them to ensure workers and communities impacted by America’s energy transition are not left behind,” said Assistant to the International President of the United Steelworkers Dewitt Walton.

“Make no mistake, the closures of those plants by First Energy was handled in the worst possible way. And, it did not need to be that way,” said Center for Coalfield Justice Executive Director Patrick Grenter. “We must take the hard lessons learned and apply them here, around the state and region and even nationally.”

Managing the Employment Impact of Energy Transition in Pennsylvania Coal Country examines the broader southwest Pennsylvania region and looks at four scenarios on how our energy mix will change over time—including how the EPA’s Clean Power Plan would impact the region.

“This report shows that we’ll see net job increases in employment in energy by 2030—even in this region,” said Mick Power, membership and campaign coordinator for the US Climate Action Network and author of the report. “Renewable energy and energy efficiency create more jobs than fossil fuels, but there will be a loss in long-term operating and maintenance jobs. We need to make the right policy choices and take the right actions to ensure the jobs created are quality jobs and workers are trained in the skills needed to do them.”

The report recommends investments in research, taking proactive steps to deal with possible job losses as part of the transition head on and honestly, ensuring that southwest Pennsylvanians obtains funds from existing sources to expand transition programs, and insisting there is a just transition for workers and communities impacted.

“By taking the lessons we’ve learned to heart, making the right policy decisions to ensure jobs created during this energy transition are quality jobs, and taking steps to ensure workers and communities impacted are treated fairly, we will ensure a just energy transition for all of us,” said Randy Francisco, Pennsylvania organizing representative for Sierra Club.