As Philadelphia works to tackle climate change, a question emerges: Is PGW on board?

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Contributed date

June 1, 2021 - 3:46pm

Critical Commentary

With attempts to electrify grids in a sustainable way, many oil and gas furnaces will inevitably be shut down by 2025. The foregoing is a threat for energy supplies for utilities such as PGW, among utilities that opposed updated and thorough building code implementation. The call to transition away from natural gas presents significant challenges for PGW as a utility but also for customers in Philadelphia, who are low-income at a disproportionate rate compared to other cities, who could face rate increases. Black and Latinx households in Philadelphia already face risks of shutoffs significantly higher than their white counterpart and could potentially be left behind by PGW's energy transition, which would be easily accessible by high-income communities. 

What's disheartening about PGW is that the utility has been opposing the efforts to reduce emissions and address climate via electrification processes, together with working across states to prevent local governments from inviting electrification. Spatz, from Climate Investigations Center, sued PGW in a Right to Know lawsuit to have the utility release the information regarding collaboration with anti-energy transition. PGW has been intentionally withholding information on their support for Senate Bill 275, which essentially invites continuation of fossil fuel extraction and adoption. Lobbying in favor of SB 275 would essentially set Philadelphia's climate goals back. The most controversial aspect is that PGW's customers are essentially footing the bills that work against their own interest and work to endanger climate transition prospects. This article brings forward a series of issues, the most important being lobbying and utility action transparency. As consumers we may trust utilities to provide us with services, especially given we pay for these services, but we can't fully entrust our energy wellbeing to them, even when these utilities are public utilities like PGW. In fact, this article sheds light on the energy governance disparities that exist and that often place low-income households at high risks, of being left behind in energy transitions and of being continously at risk of losing service.


Philips, Susan. "As Philadelphia works to tackle climate change, a question emerges: Is PGW on board?" State Impact Pennsylvania, May 28, 2021,

Cite as

Susan Phillips, "As Philadelphia works to tackle climate change, a question emerges: Is PGW on board?", contributed by Briana Leone and Alison Kenner, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 1 June 2021, accessed 10 December 2023.