Photo: Make Detroit the Engine of the Green New Deal! Becker1999, Wikimedia commons

Climate-safe energy is being produced locally all over the country in ways that also produce jobs and increase racial, social, and economic justice – fulfilling the basic principles of the Green New Deal. “Climate-Safe Energy Production – from Below,” a new commentary by Jeremy Brecher describes a range of those projects.

In Denver, solar gardens are sprouting up all over the city. They are designed to contribute to Denver’s goals of 100 percent renewable electricity for municipal buildings by 2025; 100 percent community-wide renewable electricity by 2030; and 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Meanwhile, the Denver Housing Authority has launched the CARE Project (Clean Affordable Renewable Energy), included a two-megawatt community solar garden which serves 500 homes. The project offers reduced energy costs and renewable energy to low-income communities and a pipeline to employment in the solar industry for under-served communities.

In Martha’s Vineyard, the Vineyard Power Coop won the first Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) for offshore wind signed in the United States. The agreement provides for local jobs, control, and stable electricity prices. Vineyard Wind 1 will generate thousands of jobs through the development, maintenance, and operation phases over the next 25-30 years.

“Climate-Safe Energy Production – from Below” provides many additional examples. Community-owned, not-for-profit electricity suppliers known as public power utilities provide electricity to more than 2,000 communities across the U.S. Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) allows local governments to procure power on behalf of their residents, businesses, and the municipalities themselves, with more local control over their electricity sources, more green power than is offered by the default utility, and lower electricity prices. Many cities are buying green power — Dallas TX is now purchasing 100% green power. In Boston’s Chinatown the Chinese Progressive Association is planning for a “community-owned energy microgrid to reduce emissions and bring electric power to those most impacted by environmental injustice.”

Protecting the climate requires meeting the original Green New Deal proposal’s goal of 100% of national power generation from renewable sources within ten years. That requires greatly expanding climate-safe sources of energy. It involves an unprecedented transformation of the energy system, and that requires national investment and planning. But much of the transformation will actually be composed of local building blocks – and those can begin right now.

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