by Ruben Aronin, Deputy Director, California Business Alliance for a Clean Economy
Last week, I emceed a California Delivers press event to celebrate the jobs and economic benefits of clean energy.
Community leaders gathered in the Willowbrook neighborhood near Compton in South Los Angeles at the home of Rose Pinkney, a grandmother who had a new solar power system installed on her roof thanks to California’s clean energy and climate law, AB 32. As a result of the new solar panels, Mrs. Pinkney is expected to save 80% on future electricity bills.
The 4.3 megawatt solar system was installed by GRID Alternatives, an organization that trains and hires people to install rooftop solar. According to the Solar Foundation, California’s solar industry now employs more people than the state’s five largest utilities.
GRID Alternatives already has provided 20,000 people with solar job training and two of their trainees spoke at the Willowbrook event about being underemployed over the past several years. They spoke of optimism that the solar industry will continue to provide a new dependable career while offering additional economic and health benefits to families like Rose Pinkney’s.
The event helped mark the beginning of an explosion of new rooftop solar opportunities especially targeting low-income families. “We plan on funding solar systems for up to 1,600 homes throughout California this year and 200 of those are expected to be right here in the LA region,” said Jason Wimbley, Chief Deputy Director of the Department of Community Services and Development for the State of California.
Reverend Reginald Hansome of the Ascension Lutheran Church said that “today is just the beginning” and spoke of the need to continue to use solar power to empower families and communities to embrace the win-win-win solution of reducing electricity expenses, improving our air quality and health and creating jobs that are desperately needed for our communities.
Rose Pinkney’s solar installation was made possible through funds from AB 32, and
specifically through the Low Income Weatherization Program, a Climate Investments program funded by cap and trade. Other projects receiving funding include energy efficiency upgrades for homeowners in communities that traditionally have been among the hardest hit by pollution and are home to some of the state’s most economically disadvantaged residents.
The Willowbrook event was an excellent reminder about how AB 32 is continuing to deliver benefits to businesses, communities and entire regions – through energy cost savings, cleaner air and improved quality of life.
Learn more about California Delivers. www.cadelivers.org