On Monday I was privileged to participate in the Sacramento kick-off of a new program that uses charges on big polluters to bring clean energy to households in disadvantaged communities. The installation of solar panels by GRID Alternatives at a home in the Fruitridge Manor neighborhood of South Sacramento demonstrated the fruits of many years’ work by CCA and our allies to direct the funds raised by California’s climate policies to communities that suffer the worst effects of pollution and have the least resources with which to address it. Roy Rivera, a disabled man who lives on a fixed income, will save over $800 a year in energy costs with the solar panels installed on Monday. Using proceeds from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) under the Department of Community Services and Development (CSD), GRID Alternatives will provide rooftop solar to more than 1,600 families in disadvantaged communities around California through 2016.
Because of our work with Senate President pro tem Kevin de León to pass SB 535 into law in 2012, money is now starting to flow into pollution-fighting programs like energy efficiency and solar power for low-income households and tree planting in blighted neighborhoods. Soon to come will be cleaner trucks, cars and buses and improved transit service for smog-choked areas.
The Legislature is now crafting next year’s budget, and is considering Governor Brown’s proposal to spend $2.2 billion in revenues from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. We urge lawmakers to approve the Governor’s plans, and to add funds for transit passes, bike and pedestrian programs, and outreach to disadvantaged communities to help them get access to the programs, as proposed by the Assembly.
The Legislature and Governor are also working to meet the challenge of global warming with improved policies that reduce oil use, make our buildings more energy efficient, and increase renewable electricity. The Coalition for Clean Air, with our partners in the California Delivers campaign, looks forward to continuing and expanding California’s successful climate policies so that we can see many more projects like the Riveras’ solar panels.