The Delaware County Office of Sustainability is shaking.
It recently was awarded two Alternative Fuel Incentive Grants totaling $600,000 to be used by the county for the purchase of new electric vehicles and related charging stations.
Although full for in-person attendants, the first Delaware County Sustainability Conference is going to be held Thursday at Subaru Park. The event scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. can be viewed through the livestream at delcopa.gov/sustaindelco.
It is anticipated to be an annual event and is vegan, zero waste and admission free.
By focusing on six areas – Health and Wellness, Climate Resiliency, Natural Resources,Transportation, Energy, and Zero Waste, local and regional sustainability experts and advocates will share ideas and discuss climate change, environmental stewardship, health and sustainability.
Ruth Abbe is the keynote speaker. In November, her California-based firm Zero Waste Associates was hired by Delaware County to craft a 10-year solid waste plan that would create a way to handle the county’s trash over the next decade. The county is required to submit this plan to the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection by December 2023. Abbe has also worked with Austin and Dallas, Texas; Los Angeles, Calif.; Mecklenburg County, N.C. and San Francisco, Calif.
Among the 27 speakers at the event include Delaware County Council Chair Dr. Monica Taylor; Chester City Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland; Delaware County Chief Sustainability Officer Francine Locke; Elizabeth Drake, Director of Sustainability at Swarthmore College; Darren A. Spielman, executive director of the Pennsylvania Resources Council; Justin Trezza, Director of Community Gardens Program at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Harlem-native, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society tree tender and urban farmer Melody Mason.
Among those planning to attend include Bryn Mawr College, Drive Electric Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability, the Penn State Agriculture Extension, the Pennsylvania Resources Council, the Office of Environmental Justice, the Delaware County Health Department, Conscious Connections, Inc., and members of the Chester County Planning Commission, the Montgomery County Planning Commission and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
In-person conference attendants can partake in a tour of the stadium as well as its organic garden and an electric “ride and drive” demo. There will also be a Sustain Delco Award ceremony.
Electric vehicles will soon become even more commonplace in the Delaware County fleet, thanks to the most recent state Alternative Fuel Incentive Grants.
The county has been in the process of replacing its fleet with electric vehicles and last week, they announced the awarding of two AFI grants totaling $600,000.
This will allow the county to purchase 69 new electric vehicles, including 29 that are specifically designated for the Delaware County Health Department, and 22 charging stations.
Last year, the county also received two AFI grants and used that to purchase 15 electric vehicles and three charging stations.
The county’s fleet is comprised of more than 300 cars, trucks and specialty law enforcement vehicles, of which 84 are electric vehicles. There are also 25 charging stations.
“The $600,000 in DEP grants will allow Delaware County to accelerate its transition from a fossil-fuel burning fleet to a zero-emission fleet,” Locke said. “This means we’ll be reducing greenhouse gas emissions—which contribute to rapid climate change—and reducing the exposure of our most at-risk populations to air pollution and its chronic health effects—especially asthma.\
With the purchase of electric vehicles through this grant round, 33,253 gallons of gasoline are anticipated to be displaced per year and 178 tons of greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be reduced.
Locke explained how the vehicles will be used once here.
“The majority of the new EVs will be driven by Environmental Health Inspectors from the new Health Department who will travel to every neighborhood within the County,” she said.
She added that the grants also mean that $600,000 that would have been used towards the acquisition of new vehicles can now be allocated to other needs.
As a result of this funding and these efforts, Locke said, ” “Delaware County residents will be able to breathe cleaner, healthier air!”