On Wednesday, September 2nd, NECEC, Northeast Clean Energy Center, and Daymark Energy Advisors hosted a webinar titled Environmental Justice, Social Welfare, and Energy Infrastructure.
- Kathy Kelley, VP of operations at Daymark Energy Advisors
- Eugenia Gibbons, Boston Director of Climate Policy, Healthcare Without Harm
- Jon Abe, CEO, Sunwealth
- John Odell, Director of Energy and Asset Management, City of Worcester
- Jeremy McDiarmid, Vice President, Policy & Government Affairs, NECEC
The main theme of this webinar was exploring how the renewable energy industry can emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic in a responsible and inclusive manner. The pandemic has linked exposed inequalities within our society. As we continue to adapt to our new societal norms in the face of the pandemic, the renewable energy industry has an opportunity to address these inequalities while transitioning to safer, healthier, and more just living conditions for all people.
These panelists were able to provide unique and insightful perspectives into the work they are currently doing and the work we can do moving forward to ensure an equitable emergence from the wraps of COVID-19.
John Odell spoke about the Green Worcester Plan, a comprehensive strategy to make Worcester a more sustainable place to live. The main areas of focus of this plan are Energy, Building and Transportation, Natural Systems, Social Equity, and Awareness. John stressed the importance of including all stakeholders in conversations and decisions about infrastructure improvements. “It’s not just about what we build, it’s about where we build it.” It is imperative to focus on communities that have been most negatively impacted by climate change and pollution from burning fossil fuels when implementing clean energy and sustainable infrastructure. Having stakeholders and representatives from all communities present during planning and decision making makes for the most just transition to a more sustainable future. John emphasized that “decisions that affect people should be made by those that are affected.”
Eugenia Gibbons spoke about her work with Healthcare Without Harm and how climate change and health are inextricably linked. Although it has been abundantly clear in the past, COVID-19, a respiratory disease, further cements the link between air pollution and health outcomes that certain frontline communities face. Eugenia sees a real opportunity moving forward to properly value the health benefits of clean energy solutions - especially for folks overburdened by premature death caused by pollution.
Eugenia also referenced the Evergreen Co-op in Cleveland Ohio, how it built up a local economy, and has become a model for other communities around the United States. “Rather than a trickle-down strategy, it focuses on economic inclusion and building a local economy from the ground up.” (http://www.evgoh.com/about-us/)
“Our goal is equitable wealth creation at scale.” - Evergreen Board Chairman Ronn Richard
Jon Abe, CEO of Sunwealth spoke about how his company has been able to do great work by building an inclusive solar economy. Abe also explained how his company works with installation companies, design teams, and engineers that are from the communities that the projects are being built in. Abe referenced a quote from John Adams: “To be good, and to do good, is all we have to do.” He went on to explain that it is important to not be afraid of making mistakes. It is necessary to be responsible, but mistakes can be seen as opportunities to learn and grow.
Clearly, throughout this webinar, a main theme was how to incorporate all stakeholders and members of the communities in which new energy infrastructure is being constructed. As we transition to a clean energy economy, issues are sure to arise.
At Breiter Planet Properties we take pride in being able to adapt to unique situations and scenarios as we continue to contribute and help grow the clean energy economy by strategically deploying investments into solar and solar plus storage projects. We understand the importance of including all stakeholders and members of communities in which we work. We work closely with our customers and truly believe in the mission of providing solar access for all.
We are proud to work with homeowners, property owners, and businesses to help them join in the transition to a clean energy economy. Reach out to us to learn more:
Interested in Tuning in? The next webinar in this series is scheduled for september 15th!