PHA Uses Earth Day to Begin New Energy Conservation Program
PHILADELPHIA, PA- Soaring energy bills are affecting all of us, but for the Philadelphia Housing Authority the cost of energy is threatening the delivery of basic services. That's why the agency used this year's Earth day celebration to launch a new program to reduce the amount of energy the authority uses.
The campaign is called Conserve energy - Preserve public housing. PHA Executive Director Carl Greene said the campaign name is more than a slogan.
"Energy conservation has become increasingly important at PHA. We have 80,000 residents, and we pay all or part of the energy bills for most of those clients.  If we don't significantly reduce our energy consumption and costs, we will simply not be able to maintain the high level of quality housing the citizens of this city have come to expect from PHA," he said.
Greene's comments came at an energy awareness event cosponsored by PHA and the Earth Day Network. State Senator Anthony Williams, one of the speakers at the event, noted "energy conservation is not a subject that people of color have paid a lot of attention to, but now must in order to keep their utilities on."
PHA has undertaken a sweeping energy reduction plan. The agency is replacing over 1,000 old-fashioned water-wasting toilets with the new water saver models and installed over 4,000 compact florescent bulbs in common areas at twenty developments.
Greene told the audience that's just the beginning.  He said energy education classes would begin soon with residents getting incentives to help PHA save energy. He said that PHA "is setting a goal of a 3-5% reduction in energy use through conservation."
The rapidly rising energy bills come at a time when the federal government has dramatically cut funding to public housing authorities, including PHA. New York City's housing authority has announced increases in rent of up to 40% to stave off a growing deficit. PHA is evaluating how to cope with the budget crunch, but officials feel that saving millions of dollars on energy would be the most painless way to start.
State Senator Anthony Williams joined PHA Executive Director Carl Greene in making a pitch for energy conservation to preserve the quality of public housing and to keep their utilities on.

Vivian Buckingham of the Earth Day Network told the crowd that the factors affecting energy usage and conservation were complex.

Keiwana McKinney, who emceed the event, presents a citation to the Earth Day Network as Carl Greene and Senator Williams look on.

Steve Hersey of PGW told the crowd at the Earth Day celebration that the utility is fighting an uphill battle to hold down costs, for itself and its customers.