The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at Penn and Drexel’s Institute for Energy and Environment seek to support a process for developing a broadly shared vision of energy for Philadelphia and the Commonwealth that is prosperous, equitable, healthy, safe, environmentally sensitive, and secure. We share an observation and concern that no process now exists that makes possible the discovery and development of such a broadly shared vision. We do not presume that such a shared vision necessarily exists; as there appears to be large initial disagreements among some stakeholders. And we observe that these disagreements appear to be growing larger in the past year, since the contested idea of an “energy hub” has become media fodder for dueling quotes. However, we believe that a structured process of facilitated agreement-seeking discussion is the only way to test whether a shared longer-term vision for a Sustainable Energy Strategy is possible—and thereby avoiding an outcome that would be worse for ALL stakeholders, whether from greater costs, higher pollution, fewer paychecks/less profit, or increased risk. This issue is a truly grand challenge to all of us, and we are prepared to devote our resources in playing a productive role.
Our initial principles for this process include the following. First, that all stakeholders in a sustainable energy hub should be able to advance their own interests in any shared vision, even though that vision will likely require them to compromise at times. Second, that discovering whether such a shared vision is even possible requires a venue that fosters candid and informed discussion and a process that affords participants a safe harbor in which to share their interests and information. Third, that the participants and the process do not need a formal delegation of public authority to create a shared vision; instead the shared vision would derive its legitimacy and influence from the standing of the participants, the fairness of the process, and the strengths of the vision itself. Fourth, that the process must get “the whole system in the room” in order to construct a pragmatic and legitimate shared vison of a sustainable energy hub that would have the power to influence decision makers; critically, that system must include interests beyond the industry proponents and environmental opponents who have been heard from to date; it must most likely also include other major stakeholder interests such as workforce advocates, community advocates, health advocates, planning advocates, and possibly government representatives. Fifth, that this will likely take a longer-term and more comprehensive view of what a Sustainable Energy Strategy would entail than any single near-term energy-related project or proposal. Sixth, that a resulting shared vision that advances these collective interests could inform a variety of regulatory, legislative, community, investor, and other decisions needed to realize the shared vision over time.