By Dick Breckenridge, Regional Program Manager for the BlueGreen Alliance in Illinois.
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a hearing in Chicago about the Clean Energy Incentive Program—a component of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The incentive program is designed to help low-income communities get access to renewable energy and energy efficiency. It is a great example of how a policy that reduces pollution and saves consumers money—for example, by making affordable multi-family housing more energy efficient—can also create good jobs.
I spoke at a rally in Chicago that took place during an EPA hearing on the incentive program to push for the Clean Energy Incentive Program to be designed to deliver good, lasting jobs and economic benefits to all communities—particularly those most impacted by pollution and climate change. The incentive program has matching funds that can be used by our state and others around the country to make sure those who are the most impacted by climate change have access to clean energy and energy efficiency savings, while also creating good local jobs and career paths in the efficiency sector.
The EPA itself has recognized that there have been historic economic, logistical, and information barriers to implementing demand-side energy efficiency programs in low-income communities. We can help fix that with a smart, strong Clean Energy Incentive Program. It should retain a core focus on delivering benefits to low-income households and communities. It should also jumpstart improvements to low-income residential and multi-family housing.