Energy and Green Jobs

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Our nation’s dependency on fossil fuels and unchecked energy consumption continues to have important environmental justice implications, including the siting of power plants and other energy infrastructure. NYC-EJA has collaborated with several partners to ensure that energy planning and economic development in NYC are conducted equitably, and that low-income and communities of color do not continue to bear an overwhelming burden.

 

Article X: New York State's Power Plant Siting Law

In 2011, NYC-EJA was invited by Governor Cuomo's Office and the NYS Assembly to provide advice for the re-authorization of Article X (New York State’s power plant siting law, which expired in 2003).  Known as the Power NY Act, NYC-EJA worked with allies NY Lawyers for the Public Interest, NYPIRG, and Environmental Advocates of NY to ensure the new Article X law provided the strongest protections for environmentally overburdened communities of color.  Power NY mandated (for the first time) the development of environmental impact analyses that measure a community’s total environmental load before a power plant siting can be approved.  More importantly, Power NY mandated that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation promulgate regulations for the State’s first ever “disproportionate burdens” analyses.  If a community is found to be disproportionately burdened, power plant applicants will have to commit to local, verifiable offsets of any projected pollution emissions before the power plant can be sited, thereby easing the burden on our most vulnerable communities.

 

New Energy Demands for 700,000 residents of 12 Brooklyn communities

Projections show that within the next 10 years, Con Edison will not have the capacity to meet the peak energy needs for all of Brooklyn. The Brownsville 2.0 substation -- which powers the neighborhoods of Bushwick, Bedford Stuyvesant, East New York, Cypress Hills, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, and Brownsville (among others) -- does not have the capacity to meet increasing energy needs during the summer. This puts local residents and businesses at increased risk of losing power when it is needed most.

Rather than investing $1 billion to construct a new substation (which is not enough in the long run) Con Edison negotiated a new approach with the NYS Public Service Commission called the Brooklyn Queens Demand Management Program  to reduce the electric load by:

  • Building a “micro-grid”, a system linking multiple energy generation sources that can either be connected to the City’s electric grid, or disconnected to function on its own;
  • Pursuing strategies for “demand response reduction”, which enables customers to help reduce the load during times of peak demand;
  • Increasing energy efficiency in buildings and appliances; and
  • Other long-term solutions such as new building designs for natural lighting and passive climate control projects, among others.

NYC-EJA is concerned that current planning does not address potential public health and economic consequences, and lacks meaningful community involvement.

  • Public health and local air quality: How will a micro-grid be powered? Will Con Edison and government agencies insist on clean energy like solar and wind power? Or will they allow cheap, polluting fuel like diesel, which will make local air quality worse? Poor air quality contributes to public health crises like increased asthma and bronchitis rates, in communities where this is already a major public health concern.
  • Economic development & energy efficiency: How can community residents directly benefit from energy efficiency programs in the short and long-term? Will local residents be hired for demand reduction or energy efficiency initiatives, or the construction, maintenance, and operation of the proposed infrastructure? Can local community groups start their own businesses, or otherwise participate as co-owners of this new emerging system?

To address these public health and economic development concerns, NYC-EJA worked with local community development corporations and community groups to launch a new coalition called the Brooklyn Alliance for Sustainable Energy (or BASE) to monitor Con Ed and the PSC’s progress. To learn more about the New Energy Demands in Brooklyn and Con Edison’s plans to address them see NYC-EJA's fact sheet and Comments to the New York State Public Service Commission regarding the Con Edison Brooklyn ‐ Queens Demand Management program.

 

NY Renews

NY Renews is an unprecedented coalition of community-based organizations, environmental justice groups, labor unions, faith groups, business leaders, and other advocates from across the state working together to demand healthy communities, good jobs, 100% clean energy, environmental justice, and worker protection. Throughout Fall 2015, NYC-EJA, ALIGN NY, and the Working Families Party co-convened upstate and downstate meetings to develop consensus around a policy platform. The still-growing coalition now has over 40 groups, and over 1,000 people attended launch events in NYC and Buffalo on 12/16/15.  NY Renews is calling on Albany to make New York State's climate commitments legally enforceable and ensure accountability. For more information or to get involved, go to: http://nyrenews.org/ 

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Accomplishments

  • In 1995, NYC-EJA launched the City's first green jobs training program, then known as the Minority Workers Training Program.  NYC-EJA is a co-founder of the New York City Apollo Alliance and is a partner in their living wage green jobs campaign in NYC; at the State level, NYC-EJA works with the Center for Working Families on NYS green jobs strategies. 
  • In response to NYC-EJA's and other allies advocacy efforts, Power NY mandates (for the first time) the development of environmental impact analyses and mitigation that prevents any net increases to an environmental justice community’s total local air pollution levels before a power plant siting can be approved.