PowerMinders, a growing network of college students throughout Pennsylvania, is gearing up for Act 129, which mandates that the state’s major energy companies reduce their customers’ power demand and consumption by 3 percent by 2013.
According to Robert Fiori, president of PowerMinders, the 700 student “ambassadors” in his network have already been working in their home communities with parents, relatives and neighbors to replace incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs that produce the same amount of light while reducing greenhouse gas pollution, energy
consumption and the cost of electricity.
“We are looking forward to participating with energy companies throughout the state in this initiative signed into law by Gov. Rendell last October,” he said. “Many of our students have already been trained to conduct walk-through energy surveys and we continue to train more. This is no small-scale operation. For example, plans filed by PECO Energy Co. and Pennsylvania Power & Light (PP&L) with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in July called for the expenditure of $342 million and $248 million respectively over the next four years.”
Fiori has been meeting with career counselors from colleges and universities throughout the state to explain the scope of Act 129 and the role their students can play in “getting this mammoth, worthwhile program accomplished.”
At two different conferences recently, one at Penn State and the other at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Fiori addressed representatives from more 50 Pennsylvania colleges and universities regarding their fall training plans. “Our state's colleges have recognized PowerMinders' ability to provide their students with energy experience and the potential for a career in Pennsylvania’s growing green economy,” he said. He noted that PowerMinders’ student ambassadors were recently accepted as pledge drivers for the EPA's Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR campaign. “At a time when the economic downturn has severely reduced the number of job opportunities for college graduates, one of the few bright lights is the prospect of jobs in the ‘green energy’ field,” Fiori said. “Our student ambassadors are enthusiastic about involvement in this field and reducing the use of fossil fuels that cause global
warming. They are aware of the impact that will have on their lives and the lives of their children and they want to do something about it.”
He said most of the students he has spoken to have been inspired by President Obama, who in June said, “Today we’re announcing additional actions to promote energy efficiency across America – actions that will create jobs in the short run and reduce dangerous emissions and save money in the long run.
“First step we’re taking sets new efficiency standards on fluorescent and incandescent lights.. I know light bulbs may not seem sexy, but this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and our businesses.
Between 2012 and 2042 these new standards will save consumers up to $4 billion a year; conserve enough electricity to power every home in America for 10 months; reduce emissions equal to the amount produced by 166 million cars a year, and eliminate the need for as many as 14 coal-fired power plants.” Fiori said colleges and their sustainability offices are pursuing their own “green programs,” asking students to conserve energy on campus.
PowerMinders’ student ambassadors are taking these campus initiatives into their home communities throughout Pennsylvania and providing moderate-income homeowners with free energy-efficient bulbs, a home energy survey and information concerning energy equipment loans and appliance rebates – all of which will help families save on
their energy bills.
“With rate caps coming off soon and our electric bills about to rise,” he said, “these services being provided by our state’s college students will help save Pennsylvania residents millions of dollars in energy costs and position our state
as a leader in President Obama’s dream of anenergy-efficient nation with sustainable energy technology.