|Anthony Gattullo warns solar is expensive|
This 21st Century rainmaker is Community Energy's Joel Thomas, who spoke to a crowd of about fifteen people, most of them Lehigh students, at the Bethlehem Public Library on September 4. Mixed in with this mostly student crowd were about four members of Thomas' own company.
Community Energy boasts about 80,000 customers in the Northeast, and is now expanding into the Lehigh Valley
After a power point presentation that included scary pictures of Hurricane Sandy and graphs showing that the planet is about to explode, Thomas explained that a big part of the problem is those dirty fossil fuel power plants. He then produced an ugly picture of one of them, which he rides by on his bicycle twice a week.
"They make me sad," Thomas said. He added that he's also losing sleep over our coral reefs.
The only way to reverse this dire situation, according to Thomas, is to switch to his energy company. It's based solely on solar power. It will cost a little more than a fossil fuel tab, but there will be no emissions. The company already has a solar plant on a preserved farm in Lancaster County, which generates enough power for 4,000 homes. His company's goal is to have 20% of Pennsylvania's power generated through solar power.
"Instead of putting profits into our pockets, we'll put them into more renewables," Thomas pledged.
"So you're a nonprofit?"
"No," he answered, as a member of his company burst out in laughter.
The company is privately held, too.
One of the few actual homeowners who attended the presentation is Bethlehem resident Anthony Gattullo. He told Thomas that converting his home to solar power would cost him $37,000. Thomas said that price has dropped in recent years, and added his company sometimes lends the upfront costs.
After filling the library to capacity with carbon emissions, Thomas and his co-workers, along with a few climate control activists, adjourned to enjoy carrots, celery and cakes from Vegan Treats. He invited everyone to join him at he Wooden Match, where he would presumably be emitting carbon. .
He closed by saying that the fossil power companies like PPL are neither bad nor good, but just are.
Updated 9:45 AM: Paul Muschick's informative "Watchdog" column is warning readers about a practice among electric power salesmen known as "slamming", in which people are signed up as customers without their agreement.