Bay Area cities such as Oakland are developing groundbreaking climate action plans that would invest in low-income communities as well – except that the cities lack implementation funds. Currently PG&E collects at least $76 million annually in public goods charges from Northern California consumers to run poorly documented energy efficiency programs with questionable impact. Giving local governments the option to spend these funds instead of utility companies would provide a funding source to make local climate action plans a reality, and place pressure on the utilities to improve their energy efficiency programs through honest competition.
Bay Localize’s Local Clean Energy Program hosts the Local Clean Energy Alliance, a powerful group of 70 Bay Area organizations and independent businesses advocating for renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean air, and green jobs at the city and county level. The Alliance is launching a strategic campaign to help cities access their fair share of public goods funds to help implement local climate action plans. This strategic change could make all the difference between much-needed investment in climate solutions in low-income communities, or good plans sitting on the shelf while the private sector lines its pockets.
The Local Clean Energy Alliance is ideally positioned to take on this challenge. The Alliance unifies community organizations such as Communities for a Better Environment and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, political heavy hitters such as the Sierra Club, concerned local businesses, and passionate community activists. In 2010, the Local Clean Energy Alliance played a leading role in successfully defeating Proposition 16 and preserving community choice energy programs, even though PG&E outspent us 500 to 1 on the campaign – a true David vs. Goliath victory.