The road to a greener Bucks County begins with unplugged appliances, powered-down computers and far fewer printers in government facilities, according to plans laid out by the county’s Ready for 100 Committee.
Bucks County Commissioner Bob Harvie on Wednesday unveiled the committee’s initial recommendations, which include more than a dozen steps intended to set the county government on a path to 100 percent renewable electricity usage within the next 14 years.
“This is an ambitious goal,” said Harvie, a member of the RF100 committee. “This action plan is not meant to be the end. This is really seen as the beginning step.”
Earlier this year, the county commissioners approved a resolution based on the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 plan. The resolution aims to have county facilities running on 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035.
The need to transition to clean energy is a matter on which all three commissioners agree.
“Climate change is for real. It’s not a partisan issue,” said Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo.
The county’s Ready for 100 Committee is made up of department leaders and elected officials from across county government.
The committee’s first set of recommendations takes aim at energy use in county buildings, and suggests altering thermostat settings by one degree, prioritizing energy efficient vehicles and equipment, and taking inventory of “extra” appliances, such as mini-fridges, fans and microwaves.
“Part of it is something as simple as educating the workforce here at the county about when to have things plugged in and when to not have things plugged in,” said Harvie. “How many people turn their (computer) monitors off over the weekend?”
RF100 is a grassroots movement that focuses on persuading individuals, communities and political leaders to adopt their resolution to reduce their carbon footprints.
In March 2020, Doylestown Township became the first municipality in Bucks County to commit to RF100’s goals. Solebury, Buckingham and West Rockhill also have signed the RF100 resolution.
The resolution also has been adopted in Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
The Bucks RF100 group will continue to meet in the coming months to develop and implement plans to improve energy efficiency.
Climate change is “an important issue for our children and our grandchildren,” said DiGirolamo. “We just want to make sure there’s a financial benefit for the county.”
Bucks is looking at contracts and opportunities to help with the transition to solar power.
At Wednesday’s commissioners’ meeting, Kevin Wright, co-founder and president of ProtoGen Energy Aligned gave a presentation based on an analysis of solar power options for the county.
The Quakertown company, which conducted the analysis at no cost to the county, suggests adding solar panels to county-owned properties, such as free libraries and correctional centers.
“We looked at this on purely an economic basis,” said Wright. “There’s a cost to burning fossil fuels. The county pays an electric bill every month, so by having (solar) it really changes the dynamic of the way the county spends money.”