Author Archives: Jorge Madrid

‘Eastside Sol’ envisions the clean energy future we want to build together

California has made great progress rolling out programs intended to make clean energy technologies like solar power and electric vehicles more affordable for all Californians. However, if we are going to continue to lead the vision for what a clean energy future can look like, we still have a lot of work to do. These programs still need effective ways to reach low-income communities who are most impacted by pollution and climate change, and who oftentimes lack the resources and information to access them.

Enter Eastside Sol – the city’s first 100 percent solar powered arts and music festival. Eastside Sol celebrated its third anniversary this summer, with an event that has grown bigger and better every year. The event showcases zero-pollution energy and mobility programs for residents of the greater Eastside Los Angeles area ‒ wrapped in a fun, festive celebration of Eastside culture and community.

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Posted in California, Clean Energy, Community Solar, Electric Vehicles, Energy Equity| Comments are closed

Nation’s Largest City-Owned Utility Uses Equity Metrics to Ensure All Residents Have Clean Energy

This week, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the largest municipal utility in the country, released the Equity Metrics Data Initiative (EMDI) “to track, measure, and report on how its programs are provided to all customers and residents of Los Angeles.” This data will help ensure the utility’s investments and programs are reaching all Angelenos.

EMDI is the LADWP’s first effort to use data in the pursuit of equity in planning a clean energy future for all of us. Data gathered during the initiative will be used to create a baseline for measuring the impacts of and access to investment and services from LADWP. These include things like energy efficiency programs, solar incentives, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure ─ tracking how they reach different neighborhoods and customers, particularly those with economic and environmental vulnerabilities. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Equity| Tagged | Read 1 Response

Eastside Sol Celebrates Community, Culture, and Clean Energy in Los Angeles

ess-2016-dancing-crowdBy: Luis Gutierrez, Senior Associate, Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN) and Jorge Madrid, CA Campaign Director, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)

It’s a warm, sunny day in August at the iconic Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, California. More than 400 local residents have come together to dance to the classic tunes of Selena and the cumbia-rock fusion of El Conjunto Nueva Ola – the entire stage powered by solar. They’re enjoying delicious vegan treats, participating in a live mural art project, and screen printing their own reusable tote bags. Many are collecting free shade trees to plant at home, learning about bicycle safety and receiving free helmets, and discovering information about a new vehicle trade-in program that allows Californians to swap out their older vehicles for a new or used electric car. So what exactly is this celebration of music, art, culture, and clean energy? It’s Eastside Sol.

Event organizers Jorge Madrid and Luis Gutierrez reflect on the origins of Eastside Sol, its driving principles, and what’s in store for the future.

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Posted in California, Electric Vehicles, Energy Equity, Solar Energy| Comments are closed

10 Reasons Why We Love Community Solar

Carlos Mandeville co-authored this post.SunFamily

This year is set to be another record-breaker for solar power: the industry is on pace to nearly double in size by the end of 2016, and there are now more than one million solar installations in the U.S. that generated more new electricity in the first quarter of the year than coal, natural gas, and nuclear combined. This is good news, in part because 2016 is also on track to be the hottest year in recorded history – awash in scorching hot solar rays we can tap for clean, renewable energy.

Unfortunately, solar power is still inaccessible to vast, unreached markets and segments of the U.S. population. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory says only 22 to 27 percent of residential rooftops are capable of hosting a solar system because of structural challenges, tree shading, or “ownership issues” – mainly households who rent, and cannot install solar panels on roofs they don’t own. Likewise, U.S. households who earn less than $40,000 per year (40 percent of the U.S. population) account for less than five percent of all solar installations.

But the solar game is changing. New models are emerging to complement and fill gaps in the market.

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Posted in Energy Equity, Solar Energy| Comments are closed

The Sun Belongs to Everyone

2016-03-03-1457029192-4192505-GRIDsolar1

I thought only supervillains like Mr. Burns or Supreme Leader Snoke from Star Wars were bold enough to try snuffing out the sun…I was wrong.

I've been writing about solar power and economic equity for eight years now and I still firmly believe the vision that drew me to this issue in the first place: solar and other forms of clean energy hold the potential to be a jobs and economic growth machine for communities who need it the most.

Back in 2008, I joined a collective movement of environmentalists, community and justice activists, and labor and faith groups who coalesced around a vision for the "green collar economy." The idea of this movement was to fight climate change while also lifting people out of poverty and jails, and helping them transition into promising careers in growing industries.

Since then I've seen many great strides in the creation of a clean energy economy that employs hundreds of thousands with well-paying and accessible jobs, propelled by smart policy, innovation, and upstart private and public sector players, all making meaningful investments in communities. Rooftop solar in particular has begun to challenge the status quo by turning people's homes into mini power plants, cutting into dirty power and the monopoly-dominated, electric grid.

Yet, despite this progress and opportunity, some states – fueled by short-sighted officials, fear-mongering, and the threat of declining profits for big business utilities – want to shut it all down. Read More »

Posted in Energy Equity, Solar Energy, Utility Business Models| Comments are closed

Local Solar Can Be Good For All Neighborhoods

Grid AlternativesSolar power in California has, in many ways, been an unparalleled success: the state has more solar power installed than the rest of the country combined. There are more solar workers in California (55,000) than working actors or utility workers. Solar workers earn a higher than average wage, and the industry is making strides in employing more women, veterans, and people of color. And, the median income of households installing solar in California in 2012 was between $40,000-$50,000, mostly middle- and working-class homeowners.

But there are two sides to this story because, unfortunately, solar power is still inaccessible to many low-income households.

Take my neighborhood of Boyle Heights, on the east side of Los Angeles, for example: over 70 percent of residents are renters and cannot install solar on roofs they don't own. For those who do own their homes, many can't afford to purchase their own solar system (the median income is just over $33,000) or don’t qualify for traditional financing. Residents here have captured a paltry $0.33 per capita in solar incentives over the past 15 years, as compared to Bel Air (yup, that Bel Air) which received almost $200 in solar incentives per capita – over 600 times more than Boyle Heights. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Energy Equity, General, Solar Energy| Comments are closed
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