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Massachusetts Green Justice Coalition Makes Green Waves!

Big Breakthrough for Green Justice in Massachusetts!

Dear Community Labor United Allies and Friends —

The Massachusetts Green Justice Coalition won a victory for social justice and the environment yesterday when the state Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC) told the state’s utilities to add equity to their efficiency plans.

The EEAC must approve the utilities’ programs, which collect $210 million annually from Massachusetts ratepayers for building energy efficiency.  The Green Justice Coalition – 40 community, labor, environmental, and faith organizations statewide – brought 125 members to the July 14 EEAC meeting and urged the Council to insist upon:

  • Up-front financing for home energy retrofits, which will allow low and moderate income ratepayers to get deep savings on their energy bills
  • Community-driven outreach and mobilization, which will reach economically marginalized neighborhoods where utility marketing is ineffective. 
  • High-road jobs for community residents in energy efficiency retrofit work, providing family-supporting wages and benefits, strong health insurance and safety measures, and a path to unionization
  • A voice in the process for marginalized communities

On July 28, the EEAC passed a resolution that partially approved the utilities’ proposals but required them to add:

  • Up-front financing,probably including on-bill cost recovery (you make the repairs now and pay them off over time on your utility bill).
  • Community mobilization as an outreach strategy
  • High job standards and responsible contractor provisions. 

All these will actually have to be implemented. In addition we still need to win a voice in the process. We also need “bundling” – organizing entire blocks and neighborhoods into “green zones,” which will allow high-road contractors to bid on the work and create good jobs. The Green Justice Coalition will continue to bring proposals from its low-income constituencies into the EEAC’s deliberations and, we hope, the utilities’ final plans.

Fully implementing the Green Justice Coalition’s proposals will help the utilities achieve 3% energy savings every year. While the state needs to reach this level of energy conservation, the utilities’ current programs save less than 1% a year. The proposals they have so far submitted to the state will save only 2% a year. The Green Justice proposals combine energy efficiency with racial, economic, and environmental justice – thus, “Green Justice.”

For an issue brief on the utilities’ proposals, a community survey documenting their shortcomings, and an extensive Green Justice agenda, see www.massclu.org or for more information on this important step forward contact Jeremy Shenk at 617-723-2639

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