SOMAH: Renters can’t be left behind in California’s clean energy transition

electric building

Earlier this year, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved the procurement of 11.5 gigawatts of power from renewable energy, the single largest capacity purchase ordered. This mix of solar, wind, geothermal and long-duration energy storage will generate enough power for 2.5 million Californian homes. This “landmark order” aims to replace the power generating capacity from the central coast Diablo Nuclear Power Plant, scheduled for retirement in 2025, and the retirement of various natural gas plants without adding dirty energy. This bold investment is a key step towards achieving California's statewide goal of producing 100% clean electricity by 2045.

 

This commitment from the CPUC comes at a time when venture capitalists are making new and big investments in clean energy technology for the first time since the mid-2000s. $17 billion was invested in climate-tech startups in 2020, this time focusing on scaling up maturing technologies with late-stage startups rather than seeding new technologies. The world is ready for renewable energy in a big way, and not a moment too soon.

 

As wildfires continue to rage throughout the northern part of the state, we’re reminded of the urgency of climate resiliency. Our communities require clean, dependable energy now to cope with climate disasters, and they need it now. And while large investments in utility-scale solar PV or offshore wind are critical towards curbing further environmental disaster, we must pay attention to who might be left behind in the clean energy transition, specifically low-income renters and communities of color.

 

Targeted programs like the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) center California’s low-income renters to ensure that disadvantaged communities receive the direct economic and environmental benefits of clean energy on their roofs. These utility bills savings are especially critical now as the cost of consumer goods rises and unprecedented heat waves continue across the country. But beyond the financial, SOMAH seeks to empower disadvantaged communities through job training opportunities to join the new green workforce, tenant education programs that explain the benefits of going solar, and technical assistance to connect residents to energy efficiency, clean mobility and other energy-incentive programs. California and the nation are making large strides on the path to transforming our energy systems, but only in centering environmental justice communities can we move towards the equitable clean energy future our communities deserve.

SOMAH: Centering Environmental Justice in Climate Friendly Buildings

electric building

The building electrification movement is gaining momentum across the nation, especially in California. According to the Sierra Club, as of June 2nd, 2021, Sacramento became the forty-sixth city in the state to commit to phasing out natural gas from new building construction. Moving away from natural gas for heating and cooking is important not only to reduce the impacts of climate change but to protect health and safety. Gas pipelines can devastate water and land. Gas appliances in our homes create air pollution that contributes to serious long-term health effects, including asthma.

 

To successfully eliminate carbon dioxide pollution, or decarbonization, building electrification must be paired with energy efficiency measures. The cleanest source of energy is energy that was never used in the first place. While it’s important to seek renewable, cleaner energy to power our homes, simply reducing energy use is the single-most effective tactic for decreasing our home’s carbon footprint. Especially for properties looking to solar for their electricity needs, energy efficiency upgrades can reduce the on-site load making solar more affordable.

 

The decarbonization process must also include a sharp focus on equity. Low-income and environmental justice communities often consume more energy per square foot than their more affluent counterparts due to not enough home insulation, old appliances, and lack of access to energy efficiency programs and upgrades. If electrification efforts are made without protections for renters, landlords and property developers can recoup the costs of these upgrades by raising rents and risking displacement. As we advocate for electrified homes, we must center the needs of low-income, vulnerable renters, so that EJ communities have the opportunity to reap the benefits of these investments.

 

Programs like the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program have a built-in energy efficiency component to ensure that tenants have the greatest opportunity for bill savings in addition to advancing decarbonization. SOMAH’s technical assistance experts walk property owners through the entire process of going solar, including providing referrals to energy efficiency and other programs like battery storage and electric vehicle charging. SOMAH requires that tenants must receive the full financial benefit of having on-site solar, so decarbonization measures cannot be used to raise rents. California’s low-income renters must not be left behind by the decarbonization movement and equity-focused programs must be part of city and statewide initiatives.

 

To find out if your apartment qualifies for energy efficiency or solar upgrades, please contact the SOMAH program coordinator at Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo..

Juneteenth a Celebration of Freedom

 

More than two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed 3 million enslaved people in the U.S, an estimated 250,000 people were still being forced into slavery in Texas. That changed soon after General Granger arrived in the state with his troops.

On June 19, 1865, General Granger delivered General Order Number 3, which read:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer."

According to Juneteenth.com, “The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation.” June 19th became a yearly celebration of freedom for black Americans and was dubbed Juneteenth. It is also known as Emancipation Day. Two days short of its 156 years birthday, President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Juneteenth

 In celebration of the emancipation of the more than 3 million enslaved people in the United States, Environmental Health Coalition observes Juneteenth. We also take this moment to remember that it was only 156 years ago that black people were enslaved in our country. While celebrating freedom and all the contributions black Americans have made to the U.S. and the world, we must acknowledge that as a society we have fallen short of equity and equality and reaffirm our commitment to fighting for racial justice.

To learn more about Juneteenth, please visit juneteenth.com. To learn how you can celebrate with your family and friends, or join a celebration, check out the links below.

Happy Juneteenth!

  

How to celebrate Juneteenth:

9 Way to Celebrate Juneteenth in 2021

This Is How We Juneteenth

 

Local Celebrations:

'Say It Loud' Celebrates Juneteenth With Local Black Talent

Oceanside tea shop owner plans Juneteenth celebration Saturday

Cooper Family Freedom Festival - NAACP San Diego Branch

Local Events to Celebrate Juneteenth in San Diego County

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Did you know that June is Healthy Homes Month? 

During this pandemic year, we should be calling it Healthy Homes & Healthy Office Month. For many of us, chances are that your home is also your office. While we have been cleaning and disinfecting to keep COVID-19 away, a healthy home is much more than that.  A healthy home is well-ventilated, dry, clean, safe, pest-free, contaminant-free, well maintained, and thermally controlled.  For most parents, I know it’s been challenging to keep our homes and offices healthy, especially during this pandemic year.

I invite you (and myself 😊) to take this Healthy Homes Month to integrate some simple steps to help our homes and office spaces be and feel healthy.

Check out the flyers to learn how to make your home healthy! 

5 Minutes to a Healthier Home Protect Kids From Lead Poisoning CARBON MONOXIDE

Bathroom Safety Slips and Falls  Your Fire Safety Checklist

 

This year’s Healthy Homes theme is The Power of Partnerships. At EHC, we are grateful to all of our partners that we have worked alongside during our 40 years of fighting for Environmental Justice. Thank you partners for your dedication, support, and leadership in keeping our homes safe, healthy, and affordable. Thank you to:

HUD Lead & Healthy Homes Office, San Diego Housing Commission, City of San Diego Environmental Services Department, San Diego City Attorney’s Office, City of National City Housing Authority, City of National City Community Development, MAAC Project Weatherization Program, Campesinos Unidos, Rebuilding Together, Energy Team, La Maestra Community Health Centers, San Ysidro Health Center

We look forward to getting back to our healthy homes visits. They are an opportunity to visit families and share information about healthy homes, conduct a healthy homes assessment, and provide a free kit with resources and tools that families can put to use right away.  As part of our visit, we provide a customized healthy homes plan and may refer families to lead hazard control programs, weatherization services, code enforcement, and/or to our local clinics to support asthma, respiratory illnesses, lead poisoning. It does take a village!  Again, thank you, partners! 

 

What’s your favorite Healthy Homes Tip?

 

Homepage banner MCAS Petition 3

Our communities have suffered for too long from the pollution generated by the Port of San Diego and its tenants. Communities neighboring the Port have some of the highest levels of diesel pollution in the San Diego region. Barrio Logan has 98% more diesel pollution than the rest of the state.

Port Pollution Is Hurting Our Health

  • Diesel pollution causes lung cancer, and chronic diseases like asthma, heart disease, breathing problems, and more.
  • In 2018, chronic diseases like these caused 53% of all deaths in South San Diego.
  • The children in our neighborhoods have more than double the rate of asthma emergency rooms visit than the county average.

It’s Time for the Port to be a Good Neighbor

The Port is working on the Maritime Clean Air Strategy (MCAS), a plan to clean up the damage it is doing to our air.

The MCAS is supposed to create clear goals, rules, and deadlines for the Port to reduce the air pollution it creates. However, the Port's current plan is business as usual and does NOT put our health first.

Our Health Can’t Wait! We Deserve Clean Air Now

The Port can put our health first by committing to these goals in the Maritime Clean Air Strategy:

  • Decrease the risk of cancer by reducing diesel and other toxic air pollutants
  • Require heavy-duty trucks to transition to zero-emission vehicles (ZEV)
  • Implement a plan to install ZEV charging stations
  • Develop revenue sources to implement the MCAS goals

Sign Our Petition: Tell the Port you deserve to breathe clean air

Click below to sign our petition and demand clean air.

Sign the Petition

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