November is here, leaves have fallen, and natural gas prices have risen. We talk a lot about affordable energy and sustainable energy in Pembroke, and here’s the deal: they don’t have to be different.

For too long, we have accepted the idea that gas will always be affordable. The Democratic press release announcing funding for the Nicor gas pipeline to Hopkins Park celebrated “new law bringing affordable energy choice to Pembroke Township.

Yet Nicor now predicts their average customer will pay $674 for gas this winter, up from $455 on average last year. It’s the same across the country. NPR reported earlier this month that gas customers can expect to pay “30% more on average this winter, while homes warmed with electricity will pay 6% more, according to the Energy Information Administration's "Winter Fuels Outlook."”

And as more and more households and buildings embrace efficient, electric appliances that tap into renewable energy, there will be fewer people to share the cost of a sprawling, outdated pipeline system based on fossils, on its way to becoming a fossil. Ever fewer users means ever higher costs per person to maintain all that infrastructure.

They’re also costly to our health, spewing toxins into our homes, bringing asthma to our kids, and changing our climate dramatically. Burning fossil fuels in buildings contributed to over 1000 deaths in a year in Illinois, according to one estimate.

That’s what Illinois has promised Pembroke and Hopkins Park with the Nicor fossil gas expansion: a pipeline to the past. I appreciate the sentiment. For too long, Pembroke Township has had too few energy options in this beautiful corner of the state with history as rich as its soil.

But there is no reason to be satisfied with the energy solutions of last century, especially when the promise of affordability is so tenuous. “Earlier this month Nicor Gas said the typical residential customer could pay $43 more per month compared to last year.” There are already better options today.

At the Community Development Corporation of Pembroke Hopkins Park, we have a vision for renewable, carbon-free electricity, and energy-efficient homes and buildings that are plugged into the energy future, not the energy past. We are calling for investments. And we’re also making them.

We’re leading an exciting initiative called PEEP: the Pembroke Energy Efficiency Pilot. In partnership with the Midwest Building Decarbonization Coalition and RMI, we’re providing energy efficiency and electrification upgrades to 5 homeowners in our Township. By upgrading insulation and sealing leaks, we’re helping residents to heat the indoors only, and stop wasting energy heating the outdoors. The next step will be upgrading from wood stoves, propane, or electric resistance heating to cold climate heat pumps. It takes a lot less energy to move heat from outside (yes, even in the winter!) than to make it from scratch.

This pilot project won’t just provide a handful of home upgrades. It is also a test case to show the viability and sustainability of electric energy sources for homes and businesses within the Pembroke Community. In the short term, we aim to reduce carbon emissions, indoor air pollution, and energy costs by eliminating fuel combustion within the buildings. We are also monitoring the indoor air quality before and after our efficiency and electrification upgrades to understand the impact on our health.

In the long run, this pilot paves the way for our Pembroke energy revolution: renewable electricity such as wind and solar, powering fully decarbonized homes and businesses with zero emissions into our atmosphere or lungs.

We’re excited to share our lessons learned, and demonstrate healthy, affordable energy alternatives to Pembroke Township and Hopkins Park Residents. Our community doesn’t have to choose between affordable energy and healthy air or environmental stewardship. There are clean energy alternatives to fossil fuels that can meet the community’s needs, providing affordable energy, home comfort, and healthy living spaces right now.

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#energy #cleanenergy #savelives #energynews Great read! See the real impact of fossil fuel use.

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