April 16, 2021
The PA Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, chaired by Sen. John Yudichak (14th District), recently convened two days of hearings in Southeastern Pennsylvania on the economic impact of the technology and energy infrastructure industries in Pennsylvania.
The hearings were timely, coming on the heels of President Biden's launch of the "American Jobs Plan", a massive, national Infrastructure Investment proposal. Leaders of the Philadelphia Building Trades, headed by Business Manager John J. Dougherty, also provided testimony, as the Building Trades will play a significant role in improving and expanding Pennsylvania's aged infrastructure, which not only includes roads, bridges and sewer systems, but also the state's inadequate technology and energy infrastructure.
The committee hosted a hearing on technology infrastructure and a tour of vXchnge Data Center in Philadelphia on April 13th and a hearing on Pennsylvania’s energy infrastructure at Veritas Medical Solutions in Sen. Bob Mensch’s district on April 14th. Prior to the April 14th hearing, the committee toured the Philadelphia Steamfitters Local Union 420 Apprentice Training facility, which was led by Local 420 Business Manager Jim Snell.
The April 13th hearing featured the following panelists who are all affiliated with the data center industry:
• Steve Weaver, vXchnge, Senior Vice president of Sales
• Mike Grigalonis, President of the PA Economic Development Association
• William Lowry, Managing Director, Exelon Utilities Strategy
• Steve DelBianco and the Honorable Barbara Comstock, NetChoice
• Bob Cresswell, Hatzel & Buehler, Inc
• Zach Gniewoz, Assistant Business Manager, IBEW Local 98 North
The April 14th hearing featured the following panelists who are all affiliated with the petrochemical industry:
• Hilary Mercer, Vice President, PA Chemicals Project and Shell Polymers
• Joseph McGinn, Energy Transfer, Vice President of Public Affairs
• Chris Ruggiero, Vice President & General Counsel, Monroe Energy
• Jim Snell, Business Manager, Steamfitters Local Union 420
• John Bland, Business Manager, Boilernakers Local Union 13
• Ryan Boyer, Business Manager, Laborers’ District Council of the Metropolitan Area of Philadelphia and Vicinity
• Jim Gaffney, Goshen Mechanical
Sen. Yudichak explained the goal of the hearings.
“As we work to recover from the pandemic, it is an important time to talk about our economy, and the reliability of two of the essential building blocks of the 21st century digital economy – technology and energy, Pennsylvania has the natural resources and the skilled workforce to compete with any state or nation in the world, but we have to advance innovative business tax policies that help set the stage for private investment and the growth of high-wage jobs in the technology and energy sectors.”
Steamfitters Local 420 Business Manager Jim Snell spoke of the challenges of moving towards a green energy future while still protecting the petro-chemical industry and the huge number of people it employs.
“A necessary shift is taking place in the way we power our nation. We understand the urgent need to protect our environment and address climate change, but we also need to protect our manufacturing and related industries — and the good-paying jobs they provide. The transition won’t happen overnight. There is still a tremendous need for the traditional energy sources that power our everyday lives and provide the materials needed to create the products we rely on daily. Petrochemicals are still used in a wide array of household products. Moreover, American energy and the many products it creates have never been more critical, as we continue to confront the global health-care crisis caused by this pandemic. The proud members of Steamfitters Local 420 respect Sen. Yudichak’s leadership on assessing Pennsylvania’s energy infrastructure."
Finally, Sen. Bob Mensch (24th District) weighed in on the importance of PA's technology and energy infrastructure.
"The last year has been very difficult in terms of our economy and jobs. To get back on track, it’s important to focus on how technology and infrastructure can positively impact our economy in significant ways. I look forward to continuing to work together with my fellow legislators and businesses across the Commonwealth to find ways to improve our technology and energy infrastructure.”