On September 22, over 400 residents and union members gathered at a forum in Jamaica Plain to ask utility companies to implement their energy efficiency programs equitably. Sponsored by the Green Justice Coalition (GJC), the event brought state officials, utility representatives and residents together to learn about challenges in accessing these programs and ways to make improvements. Dozens of GJC members, including ACE, testified and delivered clear demands to decision makers. The coalition also partnered with Mass Save to sign residents up for homes energy audits.
In Massachusetts, every gas and electric bill contains a surcharge to make homes greener. In Boston, this surcharge goes into a fund for energy efficiency work that customers can use for energy audits and home weatherization. Unfortunately, these programs have not been well-publicized in lower income communities of color.
One recommendation of the GJC is recruiting community groups to help conduct weatherization outreach in our neighborhoods. With thousands of homes needing energy efficiency work, this opportunity will provide green jobs in a time of high unemployment.
At the end of this month, the utilities will file "mid-course corrections" to their three-year energy efficiency plans. We are asking the companies to include the Coalition’s recommendations such as tiered incentives so that lower-income residents can afford home weatherization and wide-spread community outreach so that residents can access the weatherization program. Local hiring for these jobs, combined with fair wages and benefits, will help stabilize families and decrease our collective carbon footprint.
“We need changes in these programs to ensure equal access to retrofits and jobs,” said ACE Director Kalila Barnett. “The benefits of weatherization work have tremendous potential to transform lower-income neighborhoods into thriving green communities with sustainable jobs.”
If you'd like to help, please call the utility company CEOs and ask that the Coalition’s recommendations be included in the mid-course correction plan. Boston residents can sign up for a free energy audit by calling the Renew Boston program at (617) 635-SAVE (7283).