At East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), we believe that Black Lives Matter. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade have rightfully sparked national outrage and a long overdue public dialogue about anti-Black racism. We grieve for the many families who have lost loved ones, and we stand united with our communities against any form of racism, discrimination, or injustice. In our commitment to racial justice, we seek to look to our own industry and be leaders in addressing racism and inequity in the energy field.
EBCE was formed to combat climate change, reduce air pollution, and build community resiliency. Climate issues are also issues of racial inequity; these are two of the leading causes of environmental racism and injustice facing our communities and the communities of color across the United States. Low-income communities of color across Alameda County have for too long had to bear the physical and emotional toll of toxic air and a warming climate – for example, a 2016 study by the Alameda County Health Department found that Oakland residents living in neighborhoods with high levels of air pollution suffered from asthma at rates two times higher than the county average. EBCE is committed to undoing these harms by working to stem the tide of environmental injustice while continuing to invest in the people and infrastructure of the East Bay. Whether through building energy storage in West Oakland to ensure the closure of a dirty power plant or providing $1.1 million in community grants in response to the COVID-19 crisis to organizations ranging from the Healthy Black Families and Mujeres Unidas y Activas to the Alameda County Community Food Bank and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, we are committed to doing more.
As an immediate response, EBCE is proud to announce four initiatives to support our commitment to racial justice:
- EBCE is launching our Community Resilience program to support the construction of two megawatts (over 200 homes) of clean solar and energy storage in low income, multifamily residences across Alameda County. These projects will lower the energy bills for members of our community who are already struggling to make ends meet, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution that disproportionately harms communities of color in the East Bay.
- We will be awarding $100,000 in grants to advance clean energy jobs training, workforce development, and career pathways for young people of color.
- EBCE will award $200,000 to support local community-based organizations dedicated to advancing public health to low-income residents and communities of color, who are facing COVID-19 rates at multiple times the County average. Solicitations will be posted shortly at EBCE.org/COVID.
- EBCE has worked hard to build a diverse workforce, but there is more work to be done. One step EBCE is taking as part of this commitment to anti-racism is a thorough review of administrative and organizational policies – from hiring, to benefits, to staff development – to ensure EBCE is hiring and developing a racially diverse and inclusive workforce.
EBCE serves one of the country’s most racially diverse counties and our goal is to be a national leader in the energy sector by advancing racial equity through our clean energy solutions, customer programs, and workforce development efforts.