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Climate Action Alert

Stop Anti-Solar Bill
AB 1139

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The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the entity responsible for regulating the investor-owned electric and gas utilities in California, has launched a proceeding to re-evaluate the current net energy metering (NEM) program and decide upon a new NEM program, to be established as NEM 3.0. Simply put, NEM is the program that allows rooftop solar customers to be compensated for the excess electricity they send back to the power grid. NEM, paired with solar financing and ratepayer funded incentives, has allowed solar to become increasingly accessible to low-and-moderate income families across California.

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Meet the San Diego County Leaders Advocating to Protect Rooftop Solar and Expand Equitable Access

by
Karinna Gonzalez
3 min

A year-long battle to save rooftop solar in California is nearing a final decision.  Although going up against the monopoly utility companies and their allies has not been easy, local advocates have been successful in sending a loud and clear message: San Diegans want to protect rooftop solar and expand equitable access to solar and storage.  A proposed net energy metering (NEM) decision is expected to be made in December with a final decision expected by February from  the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which will decide the future rooftop solar agreement in California, known as net energy metering 3.0 (NEM 3.0).  


Along with our partners in San Diego, we helped grow a coalition of over 40 local environmental, climate justice and advocacy organizations, five cities, the state’s second largest community choice energy program, schools and local elected officials to weigh in on the net energy metering proceeding to advocate for the continued growth of rooftop solar.  Over a year ago we reached out to San Diego-based solar advocates and helped establish and co-lead the Save California Solar coalition with the Solar Rights Alliance, which meets monthly and has many San Diego-based and statewide organizations involved. 


The City of Solana Beach led the charge in September, becoming the first city in the region to adopt a net metering 3.0 resolution, which specifically called out the investor-owned utilities’ proposal and its potential to disrupt the market.  The vote at Solana Beach’s Climate Action Commission and city council were unanimous after hearing many local organizations speak in support during public comments. 


“I am completely in support of the resolution,” said Solana Beach Deputy Mayor Kristi Becker.  “Everything we do on the city council, at the Climate Action Commission  for the Clean Energy Alliance, we've all been trying to encourage renewable energy so we need to make sure that it remains affordable and we also have to make sure it is affordable for those in our communities of need.” 


Following the Solana Beach resolution, the Chula Vista City Council and Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina sent letters to Governor Gavin Newsom, both advocating for the CPUC not to make any drastic changes to the current net energy metering policy, which has been very successful in finally making solar accessible to communities of concern. 


In November, the City of San Diego, America’s second-best solar city, became the largest city in the state to weigh in on the proceeding.  San Diego Councilmember Raul Campillo, who was one of the first elected officials in the state to issue a letter to Governor Newsom advocating for a solar-friendly net metering 3.0 agreement, called out the importance of this resolution during his remarks.  “This {resolution} ensures that the City of San Diego has communicated its priorities to the state on this matter, and we cannot afford any changes to this {net metering} policy that slows down the process or limits accessibility to clean energy. This resolution speaks loudly and clearly that the City of San Diego wants to protect the environment, create good paying, high-skilled jobs, improve our energy resiliency and save ratepayers billions of dollars."


Shortly after San Diego’s resolution was approved, the City of Encinitas weighed in with a letter from the city council and Mayor Catherine Blakespear, which stated “the City of Encinitas was proud to be one of the first cities in the region to join a community choice energy program, San Diego Community Power (SDCP), and we have plans for our program to benefit the community in various ways, and net metering plays a role in our impact.  The solar fees that are being proposed by the IOUs are fees that SDCP will not be able to avoid, meaning that rooftop solar for our community choice energy program customers may still be inaccessible despite SDCP’s solar-friendly NEM rate, which is bad for our community members, makes it harder and more expensive for SDCP to reach 100 percent clean energy and takes away from potential program opportunities to benefit the community.” 


It is very clear that the organizations, elected officials and San Diego Community Power understand the impacts that a bad NEM 3.0 decision could have on the climate as well as local and statewide clean energy goals.  In all of the local advocacy in meetings regarding net energy metering, SDG&E has been the only opposition, citing concerns over equity, which we believe are not only disingenuous, but unfounded.  Very credible studies show that rooftop solar reduces rates for everyone because it reduces the cost of maintaining long distance power lines as well as wildfire costs associated with those power lines.  A recent study by Vibrant Clean Energy shows rooftop solar can save California ratepayers $120 billion!  Rooftop solar threatens the monopoly utilities’ profits, and that is their true motivation for advocating for reform. California’s investor-owned utility companies have not only tried making solar less accessible to all, they have also blocked efforts for community choice energy, community solar, on-bill solar financing and other tools to make solar more accessible. 


The battle over the future of rooftop solar in California continues, but we hope that the CPUC commissioners will consider all of San Diego’s advocacy surrounding this issue and that the proposed decision released next month will reject elements of the IOUs’ proposal that would make it harder for communities of concern to go solar, namely high monthly solar fees, decreasing export compensation and instantaneous netting. 


None of this work would be possible without the dedication and commitment from local advocates, the majority of which volunteer their time for this cause.  Rooftop solar is a key climate solution, and with the devastating effects of the climate crisis already occurring throughout California, now is the time when we should be discussing how to incentivize more people, especially in communities of concern, to adopt solar and storage.  A big thank you to the following organizations, schools, elected officials and cities: 


  • San Diego Community Power 
  • City of Encinitas 
  • City of Chula Vista 
  • City of San Diego 
  • City of Solana Beach
  • Mayor Serge Dedina
  • Councilmember Raul Campillo 
  • Carlsbad Unified School District 
  • San Diego Democratic Socialists 
  • San Diego Urban Sustainability Coalition 
  • I Am Green 
  • Citizens Climate Lobby San Diego 
  • San Diego Green New Deal Alliance 
  • Unitehere! Local 30 
  • Associated Students of San Diego State University 
  • Center for Sustainable Energy 
  • GRID Alternatives San Diego 
  • Climate Action Campaign 
  • San Diego Climate Hub
  • San Diego Coastkeeper 
  • Environmental Centers of San Diego 
  • North County Climate Change Alliance 
  • Samuel Lawrence Foundation 
  • Surfrider San Diego 
  • Bike San Diego 
  • Protect Our Communities Foundation 
  • League of Women Voters San Diego 
  • San Diego Green Building Council 
  • SanDiego350 
  • South Bay Sustainable Communities 
  • Climate Reality Project San Diego 
  • BQuest Foundation 
  • Business for Good San Diego 
  • San Diego Energy District Foundation 
  • CleanEarth4Kids.org 
  • Uptown Tavern 
  • San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action 


We appreciate all of our partners in this effort and would like to give a special shout out to Climate Action Campaign, SanDiego350 and San Diego Urban Sustainability Coalition, along with the Solar Rights Alliance, which have attended countless meetings and presentations to move all of the aforementioned efforts forward.  


More details about the NEM 3.0 proceeding can be found at www.HelpCleanEnergy.org

As the year-long battle to save rooftop solar in California nears a final decision, local advocates are sending a loud and clear message:  San Diegans want to protect rooftop solar and expand equitable access to solar and storage!

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San Diego Becomes the Largest City to Advocate for Continued Access to Rooftop Solar

by
Karinna Gonzalez
3 min

On November 15, the City of San Diego became the largest city in the state to weigh in on the net energy metering proceeding, which is currently underway at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).  A proposed net energy metering (NEM) decision is expected to be made by next month on the future rooftop solar agreement in California, known as net energy metering 3.0 (NEM 3.0).  


The net metering resolution, which urges the CPUC to create a structure that will keep rooftop solar growing sustainably while expanding solar access to low-and-moderate income communities, was approved unanimously by the San Diego City Council today after receiving unanimous support during the San Diego Environment Committee last month.  Local organizations SanDiego350, Climate Action Campaign, Protect Our Communities Foundation, CED Greentech and the San Diego Democrats for Environmental Action joined the Hammond Climate Solutions team in making verbal comments in support of the resolution today, emphasizing the importance of this decision in the middle of a climate emergency.  Last month over 60 people made comments in favor of the resolution. 


“Rooftop solar is a lynchpin in the city's legally-binding Climate Action Plan,” said Matthew Vasilakis, Co-Director of Policy with Climate Action Campaign.  “We need to incentivize rooftop solar and storage with a strong NEM program and paired investments in communities of concern.  That's how we build a climate resilient 100 percent clean energy system.” 


Councilmember Raul Campillo, who was one of the first elected officials in the state to issue a letter to Governor Newsom advocating for a solar-friendly net metering 3.0 agreement, called out the importance of this resolution during his remarks today. 


“This {resolution} ensures that the City of San Diego has communicated its priorities to the state on this matter, and we cannot afford any changes to this {net metering} policy that slows down the process or limits accessibility to clean energy.  This resolution speaks loudly and clearly that the City of San Diego wants to protect the environment, create good paying, high-skilled jobs, improve our energy resiliency and save ratepayers billions of dollars."


Beyond the obvious carbon emissions reduction, local grid reliability and cost savings that come from the increased adoption of rooftop solar and energy storage, the San Diego region has thousands of local jobs at stake with this decision.  Jake Marshall, Operations Manager with CED Greentech San Diego, a distribution company out of Mira Mesa, called in to support the resolution.  Marshall’s comment highlighted the potential massive job loss that could result if the industry is forced to slow down. 


“I personally employ 75 people in Mira Mesa, we have run the numbers and with the {investor-owned utilities’ anti-solar} proposals, our numbers will go down to 22 people.” 


The resolution states that the City of San Diego “supports a CPUC NEM 3.0 decision, which emphasizes the sustainable growth of customer sited solar electric and energy storage facilities in order to meet California’s clean energy targets, particularly residential customers in disadvantaged communities” while also advocating to “reject elements of any proposal which will stifle sustainable growth of customer sited renewable generating facilities including high monthly fixed charges and avoided cost models which insufficiently account for the societal value of customer sited renewable generation.”


The resolution includes strong equity provisions, and Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe highlighted the importance of making solar jobs more accessible to communities of concern. 


Council President Jennifer Campbell ended the discussion by calling out the intentions of the investor-owned utility companies.  


“It's clear the investor-owned utilities are working hard to hamper solar energy growth, which is very short-sighted of them, as they could utilize this extra energy obtained to provide energy for other people in geographic areas that do not have as much sunshine as we have.  The cost shifting that {the investor-owned utilities} are proposing will hurt our climate action goals, will hurt our green job growth and the affordability of those who wish to push solar on their roofs.  Unfortunately it seems that their immediate bottom line is more important to them than a cleaner, green San Diego in which all income levels can participate in our abundant sunshine.  Let the {C}PUC know that San Diego stands on the side of rooftop solar, especially in communities of concern, and all the benefits of it, from good paying local jobs to healthier neighborhoods and increased clean energy production as solar energy brings.”


Once again, the only comment that was not emphatically in support of protecting rooftop solar was from one San Diego Gas & Electric employee who urged the council to meet with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an organization who is known to side with the utilities on this issue (learn more in this blog post, How an Environmental Group Aligned with Monopoly Utilities to Squash Rooftop Solar). 


The City of San Diego weighed in just in time before the anticipated proposed decision by the CPUC in December, while other cities and organizations in San Diego county have already gone on the record in support of protecting access to rooftop solar and energy storage.  In September, the City of Solana Beach became the first city in the state to issue a resolution standing up for a strong net energy metering with a unanimous vote.  San Diego Community Power, the community choice energy program for the cities of San Diego, Imperial Beach, Encinitas, La Mesa and Chula Vista, also submitted a letter jointly with San Jose Clean Energy, which highlighted the fact that the net metering proposal by the investor-owned utilities would result in fees that community choice energy customers would not be able to avoid.  Earlier last week, the City of Chula Vista voted unanimously to send a letter and approve a resolution calling for the CPUC to create a policy in which solar is able to continue to grow, and this week, Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina released a letter in support of a strong net metering 3.0 agreement. 


As the proposed decision by the California Public Utilities Commission rapidly approaches and the final decision expected by February of next year, local activists are hoping this resolution will lead to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria weighing in as well to leverage his existing relationship with Governor Gavin Newsom. 


For latest information and up-to-date calls to action, visit our net metering toolkit at www.HelpCleanEnergy.org  

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The City of San Diego’s Environment Committee Stands up for Rooftop Solar

by
Karinna Gonzalez
3 min

Today, the City of San Diego’s Environment Committee took a huge step in supporting rooftop solar by passing a resolution that advocates for a strong net energy metering 3.0 (NEM 3.0), the future solar agreement in California that is being determined by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).  If the resolution is adopted by the full city council, the City of San Diego could be the second city in the state, following Solana Beach, to issue a resolution that advocates for the continued growth of solar, rejecting the investor-owned utilities’ proposal to extend payback periods for all solar projects, even in communities of concern, and impose the highest monthly solar fees in the nation.  


The resolution passed unanimously in a 4-0 vote, urging the CPUC to reject any proposal that would stop rooftop solar from continuing to grow while urging the commissioners to consider alternatives that would expand solar access in communities of concern.  Over 60 public comments, both written and verbal, were heard from local organizations that were overwhelming in support of a strong net metering, including comments from representatives of Climate Action Campaign, SanDiego350, GRID Alternatives San Diego, San Diego Democrats for Environmental Action, Protect Our Communities Foundation and others, all of which urged the committee to approve the resolution.  The key role NEM 3.0 has in increasing the adoption of rooftop solar and moving away from consuming dirty, harmful fossil fuels was noted by speakers. 


The draft resolution states that “San Diego City Council supports a CPUC NEM 3.0 decision, which emphasizes the sustainable growth of customer sited solar electric and energy storage facilities in order to meet California’s clean energy targets, particularly residential customers in disadvantaged communities” and urges the CPUC to reject any proposal that undervalues the societal benefits of renewable generation. 


Today’s vote is a big win for over 30 local San Diego environmental and advocacy organizations, schools, cities, student organizations and equity groups who are working tirelessly to advocate for a strong NEM 3.0 to keep rooftop solar as a key climate solution and a tool to reach 100 percent clean energy targets.  Rooftop solar also provides local green jobs, supports the regional economy, offers grid resilience and helps ratepayers avoid rate increases from additional utility infrastructure, which the IOUs get a guaranteed return on investment from.  A recent Vibrant Clean Energy Study shows that California ratepayers can save $120 billion from rooftop solar while reducing the risk of wildfires, which ratepayers now must pay for. 


This decision comes just after the San Diego Community Power Board of Directors issued a letter to the CPUC commissioners and Governor Gavin Newsom stating similar concerns over the high fixed monthly charges included in the IOUs’ proposal and the devastating impacts that could have on rooftop solar adoption.  The resolution is now headed to the full city council for a vote, which is anticipated to take place before the CPUC’s proposed decision is released by mid-December of this year. The City of Chula Vista is expected to vote on a similar resolution in the coming weeks. 


For latest information and up-to-date calls to action, visit our net metering 3.0 toolkit

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How an Environmental Group Aligned with Monopoly Utilities to Squash Rooftop Solar

by
Karinna Gonzalez
3 min

California’s legislative session has closed for 2021 and elected officials are beginning to discuss 2022 legislative priorities, undoubtedly strategizing about which groups will likely support or oppose their bills. As many California elected officials ran on progressive platforms, getting buy-in from environmental groups will be a big priority for many Democratic lawmakers.


One group that’s getting a lot of attention from climate activists is the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which has a mission to “safeguard the earth—its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends and has always been traditionally looked at as an environmental organization.” Historically, NRDC has been highly respected and considered a reputable climate organization, with taglines like “Earth’s best defense” and with big wins like preserving critical species and securing broad legal protections for wildlife and marine protected areas. In 2010, NRDC helped to craft the first ever national ocean policy, which improves coordination among states and created a National Ocean Policy. Internationally, NRDC worked with partners to develop a first-of-its-kind United Nations agreement that requires the regulation of bottom trawling. NRDC has done some great work in the climate space. 


NRDC was established as a nonprofit organization 51 years ago and its support or opposition is highly valued, however, its seniority and past wins have allowed the organization to support anti-climate, pro-utility legislation while still being regarded by many as a reputable environmental group, derailing legislation and climate policies. Why would an organization dedicated to protecting the earth support anti-climate policies? While it’s not well known, NRDC has a history of siding with the investor-owned utilities to advance a fossil fuel agenda, although more individuals and organizations are taking notice as of late. 


After John Bryson co-founded NRDC, he served as a commissioner for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and eventually went on to become the CEO of Edison International, which founded the Edison International Institute (EII). EII is a utility-backed organization, which has produced studies biased against rooftop solar and led the attacks on the industry over the years. Taking a deeper look into NRDC’s history, Ralph Cavanagh, a senior lawyer from NRDC, set up the “California Collaborative Process” in 1989, which according to the San Francisco Bay Guardian, enabled key environmentalists to "meet behind closed doors with top executives from private utilities to smooth over their differences and hammer out energy-efficiency programs.” 


NRDC has issued at least four joint statements with Edison Electric Institute since 2002 regarding all manner of clean energy policy, which NRDC makes no effort to hide. In 2014, NRDC made a deal with the utility industry in which the utilities would stop fighting the existence of energy efficiency and rooftop solar in exchange for NRDC's support for designing these programs so the utilities can maintain their profit margins. Beyond joint statements from NRDC and utility groups, NRDC has also worked with the utilities to draft anti-climate policies. For example, in 2016, NRDC and the utilities jointly filed for changes to the state’s net energy metering program, the rooftop solar agreement that has helped over one million California families, schools, businesses, cities and organizations to go solar. In 2019, as policymakers were debating whether or not Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) should be held liable for the fires PG&E caused, the LA Times reported NRDC’s ‘Cavanagh thinks state legislators should change the law so that PG&E and other utilities aren’t held liable for fires sparked by their infrastructure unless they’re found to be negligent. “Our utility liability rules are unworkable. They menace every utility in California, and they need to be fixed,” he said. “This is not just about PG&E, and it’s a mistake to treat it as such.”’


Fast forward to this year when we watched NRDC undermine rooftop solar by supporting the “kill solar bill” in California, Assembly Bill 1139, and submitting an anti-solar proposal for the state’s net energy metering program, which will determine the future rooftop solar agreement in California. Beyond that, NRDC has made attempts to derail the net energy metering proceeding by suggesting major changes to the tool that determines how the CPUC values rooftop solar.  Further, the lawyer representing NRDC in the net energy metering proceeding formerly represented PG&E for 15 years, and represented Pacific Gas Transmission Company, a subsidiary of PG&E, for two years.


Environmentalists and climate justice advocates are beyond frustrated with NRDC’s actions. Not only is NRDC selling out to monopoly utility companies supporting environmental racism and accelerating the climate crisis, which often impacts communities of concern first and worst, its actions are causing decision makers to cite “environmental groups support {insert anti-solar initiative}” when in reality, it’s just one so-called environmental group that has a long-standing track record supporting the investor-owned utility companies. NRDC prioritizing that relationship over advocating to keep a proven climate solution an option for California, is not only disappointing, it has major consequences for environmental justice and climate policies. 


When asked about the hypocrisy of NRDC’s disingenuous equity claims about rooftop solar, citing the Vibrant Energy study that shows rooftop solar reduces costs for all ratepayers, and pointing out that the top reasons electricity rates are increasing are because of infrastructure that investor-owned utilities get a guaranteed return on investment on and fire-related costs, NRDC did not address or refute our points and did not provide any facts to defend the organization’s stance. When we asked why over 100 climate and equity organizations opposed Assembly Bill 1139 yet NRDC was the only “environmental group” supporting it, an NRDC employee responded by insinuating that their organization understood the issue better than traditional environmental organizations, which weren’t aware of what exactly they were signing on to. That is not factual and is an insult to the organizations, now a broad, diverse coalition of more than 350 nonprofits, small businesses, labor unions, faith-based groups and other members, many of which meet on a monthly basis to save rooftop solar.


It is clear that NRDC works to push investor-owned utility agendas, therefore it is extremely dangerous for NRDC to continue being characterized as an environmental organization and utilized by decision makers to pass anti-climate legislation and policies during a climate emergency when we need to move away from fossil fuels and towards zero carbon. We urge legislators, CPUC commissioners and other elected officials to not mistake buy-in from NRDC as buy-in from environmental groups, because NRDC does not represent the vast majority of environmental groups nor do NRDC’s actions show it's truly trying to end climate injustices and the climate crisis. Please help us fight for a more just and livable future by spreading the word and by reaching out to NRDC, asking the organization to support rooftop solar as a solution to reduce climate racism and to slow the impacts of the climate crisis. To join us in protecting rooftop solar, please visit www.HelpCleanEnergy.org.

A half-century old nonprofit organization is flaunting its laurels to obscure its support of anti-climate, pro-utility legislation. Blind esteem for this organization is actively derailing clean energy legislation and climate policies. So why would an organization dedicated to protecting the earth support anti-climate policies? Let's take a look.

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City of Solana Beach Becomes a Statewide Leader Standing up for Rooftop Solar

by
Karinna Gonzalez
3 min

On September 8, the City of Solana Beach became the second jurisdiction in the Golden State to approve a resolution standing up for rooftop solar, sending a strong message to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which will be making a decision later this year on changes to the net energy metering policy in California.  The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors approved a similar resolution earlier this year. Net energy metering is a billing arrangement between rooftop solar producers and their energy providers that credit customers with the excess energy they send back to the grid and debits customers for energy taken from the grid.  This agreement is what has allowed solar to become increasingly accessible to working-class families, small businesses, cities, schools and nonprofit organizations. 


The resolution urging the CPUC to make changes that will keep solar growing sustainably while expanding solar access to low-and-moderate income communities was approved unanimously by the Solana Beach City Council members in a 5-0 vote after hearing public comments overwhelmingly in support of passing the resolution.  Local organizations Climate Action Campaign, SanDiego350 and CleanEarth4Kids joined the Hammond Climate Solutions team along with residents from Solana Beach and the Solar Rights Alliance in calling in to make public comments, letting the Solana Beach City Council know they were in full support of the resolution.  Many others submitted written comments in support of the resolution. 


The only comment that wasn’t emphatically in support of the resolution was unsurprisingly from a San Diego Gas & Electric employee, and the other speakers addressed SDG&E’s disingenuous equity arguments, which council members acknowledged were passionately and accurately relayed. 


“SDG&E and Sempra are trying to mislead the public by citing studies that lack credibility to eliminate rooftop solar, a cost-effective, proven solution that reduces climate racism in California and slows the climate crisis, which often impacts communities of concern first and worst - all of this is to increase their profits,” said Tara Hammond, Hammond Climate Solution’s founder and CEO, “Don’t be fooled by their greenwashing campaigns and disingenuous concerns about equity and raising rates.  It’s proven that rooftop solar reduces rates for all ratepayers and is a net benefit to society.”


In the resolution, the City of Solana Beach “urges the CPUC to strengthen NEM to expand access to all households, particularly of low-and-moderate income; expand access to other clean energy technologies that pair with solar, such as batteries; ensure that the solar installations continue to grow in order to meet State and City climate goals; and exclude provisions set forth in the investor-owned utility companies’ proposal such has high monthly fixed fees, and reducing or eliminating credits for sharing electricity with the power grid.” 


The success of rooftop solar relies heavily on a strong net energy metering, and drastic changes that are being proposed by California’s three investor-owned utility companies have the ability to completely disrupt solar adoption across the state.  Slowing down the transition to clean energy means that we will continue to need more dirty energy to meet our needs which will not only further exacerbate the climate crisis but also climate injustices caused by dirty energy, mainly fracked methane gas.  Beyond the environmental benefits clean energy provides, rooftop solar reduces rates for all ratepayers (estimated by Vibrant Energy to the tune of $120 billion for Californians), strengthens the energy grid when paired with storage, provides local green jobs and reduces the risk of wildfires. 


The decision to approve the resolution comes right after President Joe Biden’s administration released a blueprint to produce 45 percent of the nation’s electricity through solar energy by 2050 as a critical part of the effort to fight climate change.  Meeting this goal will require the U.S. to install an average of 30 GW of solar capacity per year between now and 2025 and 60 GW per year from 2025-2030.  If the utility companies are successful in making drastic cuts to net energy metering in California, the nation’s top solar state, meeting this ambitious goal will likely not be possible. 


As the net energy metering proceeding is heating up at the CPUC during the current proceeding where a proposed decision is expected in November and a final decision is expected in January, more organizations and elected officials are publicly coming out in support of a strong net energy metering that will keep rooftop solar growing. 


Just last month, San Diego City Councilmember Raul Campillo released a letter he sent to Governor Gavin Newsom and the CPUC commissioners stating “Please protect NEM. Drastic changes by the California Public Utilities Commission will negatively impact customers, perpetrate environmental injustices, accelerate the climate crisis, and shatter California’s clean energy industry.”  Last week Business for Good San Diego released a letter supporting net metering.  Many San Diego organizations are a part of a statewide coalition of 347 organizations ranging from small business to equity to climate advocacy groups representing a true grassroots movement, which recently issued a statement of support to protect rooftop solar in California. 


With the City of Solana Beach leading the way for Southern California, local activists and organizations are pushing for other cities in the region to adopt similar resolutions and send a strong message to commissioners.  Tomorrow, the San Diego Community Power Community Advisory Committee will vote on a net energy metering letter, and on Monday the City of Chula Vista will discuss the future of net energy metering at its Sustainability Commission meeting. 


Other cities and organizations are expected to speak out as well since the stakes are so high.  Ending rooftop solar would impact regional Climate Action Plans’ 100 percent clean energy targets and local community choice energy programs while taking away future opportunities for San Diegans to go solar and exacerbating the climate crisis. 


For latest information and up-to-date calls to action, visit our net metering toolkit

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Solutions for Overcoming Barriers to Solar Adoption in Communities of Concern

by
Karinna Gonzalez
3 min

As California, America’s leading solar state, continues to evaluate its future solar agreement (net energy metering), it is important to acknowledge the current gaps in adoption of clean energy technologies. Although rooftop solar has become increasingly accessible to low-and-moderate income households in recent years due to a decrease in solar prices, increased financing options and an attractive current solar agreement known as net energy metering 2.0, there are still a number of barriers to adoption. The state has said that California needs to triple the amount of rooftop solar in order to meet our climate goals and that will not happen if we don’t include solutions for our communities of concern. 


1. Overcoming the barrier of homeownership through on-bill financing, community solar and incentives for multifamily solar

The primary barrier to the adoption of solar is home ownership and in order to overcome this barrier, we need to be creative and rethink the traditional financing structures for solar. Thankfully, other states have already addressed this barrier successfully and have developed innovative financing structures that allow renters to receive the benefits of solar. The first strategy is on-bill solar financing which ties re-payment for solar and energy efficiency upgrades to the meter, rather than an individual. Hawaii has successfully created the Green Money $aver program (GEM$), which is the first on-bill financing program that requires no upfront cost or credit check which are two other large barriers to adoption. Renters will enjoy an estimated 10 percent reduction on their utility bill at no upfront cost to the tenant or property owner and the credit can be transferred to the next renter. Another innovative way to overcome the barrier of homeownership is community solar, where renters can subscribe to a portion of a community solar project which will then credit against their utility bill, saving them money and letting them get their energy from clean sources. While California has excelled as the nation's number one solar state, we have fallen behind in our ability to enact legislation that supports community solar projects. Finally, the market for multifamily solar, which makes up about 30 percent of California’s housing market, cannot be ignored. Previous statewide incentive programs played a huge role in rapidly accelerating adoption for single family homes but the adoption for multifamily hasn’t had as much success. The Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (“SOMAH”) program is addressing this barrier by providing incentives for multifamily affordable housing that can cover the entire cost of the system. The program is funded through state cap-and-trade funds and has a billion dollar budget over the next 10 years. 

2. Addressing cost barriers through upfront incentive payments 

Another large barrier is high upfront costs for rooftop solar for cash purchases or for portions of state rebates and the 26 percent federal tax credit. California has put billions of dollars behind incentive programs that offer rebates for going solar, however rebates are usually distributed once the system has been installed and interconnected and usually after a lengthy application process, leaving homeowners and property owners to pay the costs for installation and permitting before they ever see a rebate check. Offering upfront payments for incentive programs can eliminate this barrier altogether. Since incentive programs for single family homeowners are beginning to sunset, it's important to also consider no upfront cost financing to address this barrier moving forward, especially for the multifamily sector. Jurisdictions could offer bridge financing programs to address this barrier, which some philanthropists and foundations are currently working to address on a smaller level. 

3. Mending relationships and lack of trust in communities of concern through partnerships with community based organizations

While many solar companies have good intentions, the solar industry has created a barrier because of the lack of trust they have created in communities of concern, which has been plagued by misinformation about solar programs and issues with some less than reputable contractors. Those few bad apples have given the industry a black eye and it’s hurting solar adoption in communities that could benefit from solar the most. It is extremely important that the solar and storage industry, along with program administrators, begin to repair the relationship with communities of concern by partnering with trusted community voices who can provide reliable information to community members in ways that are culturally appropriate and in native languages. The states’ Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing program has done a good job recognizing this barrier and contracts with local and statewide community-based organizations to conduct education and outreach to property owners and tenants to provide information about the program and overall benefits of clean energy. Partnering with trusted community partners, in addition to offering solar marketing materials, proposals and contracts in various languages, is a starting point to start building trust. 

4. Protecting existing solar customers from evolving solar policies

Finally, expanding access to rooftop solar will not happen when statewide legislation and changing statewide solar policies continue to threaten the investment that people have made or are considering making. Fighting for strong policies for new solar customers and ensuring that solar continues to grow is one fight, but when policies threaten the contracts that people have signed and been promised, it creates a distrust in the government and cities who have pushed for people to go solar and solar companies who promised customers their contracts would last for 20 years. The investor-owned utilities are getting bolder in their attempts to kill rooftop solar, weaponizing communities of concern in their attempts to kill rooftop solar, forcing utility-scale solar to be a main solution to meeting 100 percent clean energy targets, which would increase rates for all ratepayers. 

Overcoming the barriers to solar adoption won’t be easy, but they are necessary in order to ensure that we are meeting local climate action plans and statewide climate goals. Hammond Climate Solutions along with partners at Protect Our Communities Foundation, Brevian Energy and the San Diego Urban Sustainability Coalition, recently submitted a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Grant with a proposal for a program that will expand solar in communities of concern using tactics highlighted earlier in this blog. Communities of concern have long been left out of the clean energy transition and its time to invest resources to accelerate the adoption of clean energy technologies for communities who suffer disportionately from the effects of climate injustices and the climate crisis and are also paying a disproportionate amount of income towards skyrocketing energy bills. Learn more about the current attacks on solar and how you can help defend rooftop solar and expand equitable access to all ratepayers. 

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New Policy on the way for California’s Future Rooftop Solar Customers

by
Karinna Gonzalez
3 min

In the earlier half of the year, local climate activists rallied to defeat California Assembly Bill 1139 nicknamed the “anti solar bill” in what seemed like a David vs. Goliath Battle, however the utility attacks on solar aren’t going anywhere soon. If you’ve been plugged into the clean energy world, you’ve probably heard about net energy metering (known as “NEM”), the agreement that allows solar customers to be compensated for the excess electricity they share with their neighbors. It is what makes the investment pay off in a relatively short period of time. 


The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the entity responsible for regulating the investor-owned electric and gas utilities in California, has launched a proceeding to re-evaluate the current net energy metering program (known as “NEM2”) and to decide upon a new NEM program, which will be known as “NEM 3.0.”


A total of 17 proposals were submitted to the CPUC for consideration early this year, from parties that range from environmental advocates and climate justice organizations to solar and storage trade associations and of course, the California investor-owned utilities (IOUs). The commissioners will evaluate each proposal based on its cost effectiveness, equity, consumer protection and other guiding principles. Although the batch of proposals is diverse, there are some other factors that have the potential to derail the proceeding. 


The backbone of the proceeding is a study performed by Verdant Associates that analyzes NEM 2.0. The study is flawed in a number of ways but according to comments taken directly from the study, the study fails to take into account a number of externalities, including health benefits from reduced criteria air pollution, the social cost of carbon, out of state methane leakage and land use benefits of reduced rooftop solar as opposed to utility scale desert solar.The study also does not take into account the costs associated with providing reliability and resilience to the grid, which I think everyone can agree, is not equal to zero, as the Verdant Study indicates. Keep in mind, earlier this year the Los Angeles Times reported, How rooftop solar could save Americans $473 billion and how not installing rooftop solar could cost ratepayers $385 billion. 


Furthermore the tool being used to evaluate the cost effectiveness of each proposal is also biased against solar and actually undercuts the value of solar by two thirds compared to the 2020 version of the calculator. The Avoided Cost Calculator was developed by E3 consultants, which have contracts with the utilities and regularly put out bias materials. The CPUC has slipped this update under the radar, without thorough vetting and labeled the update as minor and despite over 7,000 public comments in opposition, the commission voted unanimously to approve the updates. 


With the odds stacked against rooftop solar, a key solution to stopping the climate crisis, reducing rates for all ratepayers and providing grid stability and resilience, it is more important now than ever to make sure we use our voices to fight against utility profits and put the focus where it should be - expanding solar access to communities of concern who bear the brunt of climate change as well as climate injustices and are spending a disproportionate amount of income on utility bills. Please visit our NEM3 toolkit for up-to-date information about the proceeding and for important calls to action.

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Local Climate Activists Defeat Special Interests in David vs. Goliath Battle

by
Justin Hammond
3 min

Today, California Assembly Bill 1139, nicknamed the “anti-solar” bill, has failed after unsuccessfully garnering enough votes to leave its house of origin, the assembly, by the deadline.  Community leaders, climate justice advocates, school and teacher unions, nonprofits and residents have been working to build opposition to Assembly Bill 1139 since the bill was introduced by San Diego Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez in February of this year. 


Assembly Bill 1139 would have devastated the economics of going solar in California, threatening thousands of solar jobs and billions of dollars of economic benefits across the state.  The bill would have hurt working families, schools, small businesses, community centers, municipalities and nonprofit organizations, while making solar inaccessible to low-to-moderate income families.  By eroding the economics of going solar, Assembly Bill 1139 would have also increased environmental injustices from fossil fuels while accelerating the climate crisis, which often impacts communities of concern first and worst. 


Assembly Bill 1139 was introduced to the full assembly for a vote yesterday, on June 2, and the bill was 16 votes shy of the 41 votes needed to pass the bill out of the assembly.  The bill was then asked to be reconsidered for a vote later that afternoon, and again, it failed to receive enough support to pass.  Today, the bill was moved into the state legislature’s Inactive File, meaning Assembly Bill 1139 will not be voted on again during this year's legislative session, but it could be reintroduced in January of 2022. 


“We are thrilled to see that assemblymembers, especially locally, were able to see past the false equity narrative that utilities have been attempting to push for years and stood up for rooftop solar,” said Karinna Gonzalez, Climate Justice Policy Advisor with Hammond Climate Solutions, which spearheaded the statewide effort to oppose this bill with the Solar Rights Alliance and help from local partners.  “This bill would have had devastating impacts, not only for solar customers, but also for jobs and the climate. Looking forward, we hope to continue to work with elected officials locally and statewide to expand solar access to communities of concern.” 


This landmark vote comes after climate justice advocates rallied at the South Chula Vista Library yesterday to call on California state representatives to vote no on California Assembly Bill 1139.  Speakers at the event included Maleeka Marsden with San Diego Green New Deal Alliance, Sonja Robinson with Protect Our Communities Foundation, Matthew Vasilakis with Climate Action Campaign, Karinna Gonzalez with Hammond Climate Solutions and Ian Lochore with Baker Electric Home Energy, a local union contractor and member of the California Solar & Storage Association, the statewide association that mobilized its industry to oppose this bill. 


After yesterday's event in Chula Vista, newly-elected Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber, representing California's 79th Assembly District, changed her vote from ‘yes' to abstaining.  Aside from the bill’s author, none of San Diego County’s six assemblymembers voted in support of this bill. 


“I am so grateful to the activists that bravely stood up to special interests and spent countless hours opposing this bill to help protect our vision of a just, livable future,” said Tara Hammond, founder and CEO of Hammond Climate Solutions, who gave a special shout out to SanDiego350, Climate Action Campaign and Protect Our Communities Foundation for their help defeating this bill. “This is a testament to the power of the people and recognition that Californians overwhelmingly support rooftop solar as a key climate solution.  We would like to prioritize helping communities of concern adopt solar and storage, becoming local resilience hubs, and we’re glad that opportunity wasn't taken away by Assembly Bill 1139.”  


San Diego has been ranked the top solar city in America numerous times, in terms of solar capacity and number of installations.  While San Diego is currently ranked second, it’s home to hundreds of local solar companies that employ thousands of local residents and provide over a billion dollars in economic benefits to the region each year.  Local nonprofit organizations Center for Sustainable Energy and GRID Alternatives are administrators of the Solar on Multi-Family Affordable Housing program, which offers state rebates for affordable housing to receive subsidized solar power systems.  These administrators were also in opposition of Assembly Bill 1139 due to the negative impact it would have had on current and future affordable housing solar projects in the region and statewide. 


Today’s news is a big win for local climate activists and green jobs since it means rooftop solar will continue to expand, furthering access to solar for communities of concern.  It also helps keep California on track to reach critical climate targets that are set across the state. 


“The fact that Assembly Bill 1139 did not pass is a huge cause for everyone to celebrate,” said Maleeka Marsden, Chair of the San Diego Green New Deal Alliance and Co-Director of Policy at Climate Action Campaign, two of 30 local organizations that came out in opposition to Assembly Bill 1139 among 150 statewide organizations.  “If Assembly Bill 1139 had passed, we would have gone backwards, not forwards, towards meeting critical climate goals and advancing equity.” 


This outcome surfaced at a time when California is seeing an exponential rise in detrimental consequences from the climate crisis and environmental racism.  A recent report authored by Daniel Kammen, Teenie Matlock, Manuel Pastor, David Pellow, Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Tom Steyer, Leah Stokes and Feliz Ventura show that climate change is occurring at a faster, more destructive rate than previously known, requiring California to accelerate statewide climate efforts.  One of the report’s key findings concluded that a dangerous level of climate change, determined by an average temperature increase of 2.7℉, will be reached as early as 2027.


“While we’re relieved the Assembly scrapped this bill, we know that SDG&E and PG&E will continue to follow the utilities playbook in attacking rooftop solar,” said Masada Disenhouse, executive director of SanDiego350. “That’s why we will remain vigilant and committed to fighting those attacks and to working in our communities to develop innovative, equitable solutions to get to zero carbon."


There is interest among local activists and those in the clean energy industry to reform the investor-own utility model, which incentivizes the utility companies to build more infrastructure, guaranteeing a return on investment for the shareholders at ratepayers’ expense. Instead, activists would like to see solar for renters, community solar programs and other investments that address equity and help move the region toward zero carbon. 


To learn more about Assembly Bill 1139 visit www.HelpCleanEnergy.org.


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California Bill Proposes to Kill Rooftop Solar While the Climate Crisis Continues

by
Karinna Gonzalez
3 min

One of the California’s Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) most watched rulemakings is the net energy metering (NEM)3.0 decision, since it will decide the future of solar power in America, as California often sets the precedent in terms of environmental policies. Net energy metering, simply put, is the policy that has made solar increasingly accessible to low-and-moderate income families, schools and other public buildings. You can visit our previous blog to learn more about NEM. While the CPUC analyzes the 17 NEM proposals that were recently submitted to determine which proposal would allow solar to grow sustainably while making sure there are no inequities as a result of the decision, California Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez has introduced Assembly Bill 1139 (AB 1139).

AB 1139 proposes a new incentive structure that pays solar customers wholesale rates for their excess generation, has high fixed fees and breaks contracts that were signed under the previous solarrules, NEM 1 (the original solar agreement that was in phased out through out the state in 2016 and 2017) and NEM 2, the current solar agreement. The calculations from the bill in its current state are alarming - the most aggressive attack on solar to date - and provide clear data showing not only how this bill would kill the solar industry, but hurt California’s 1,200,000 solar customers while making solar inaccessible for everyone, including renters, people in communities of concern and multi-family tenants. The bill slashes economic savings from solar for low-income families by 80% and payback periods are going from 11 years to over 45 years - 20 years after the system warranty ends. The bill has subsidies set aside for helping low income families receive solar, however the proposed high fixed fees paired with ending retail credit for solar customers (meaning ratepayers get paid pennies for the clean energy they put on the grid which the utilities make millions of dollars off of),could easily result in families, businesses and multifamily tenants to be paying more to have solar than they did before getting solar! Fully-subsidized solar power systems don't pencil out under this new bill, meaning the millions of dollars of ratepayer money for low-income solar will sit idle.

The bill is sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Coalition of California Utility Employees, both who usually take positions on behalf of their utility employers. If the utilities successfully kill rooftop solar, that means there will be more utility-scale solar plants in the desert, which the utilities own and profit off of, and if those new transmission lines cause fires as they have in the past, ratepayers will also absorb those costs.

Aside from the effects this bill would have on the industry, taking clean energy solutions away from Californians would also further exacerbate the climate crisis and continue the environmental racism that goes hand in hand with the continued use of dirty energy. This bill would also make it nearly impossible for California to reach 100% clean energy since the state has said that in order to reach these targets, rooftop solar needs totriple.

Last week, nearly 60 environmental, solar,climate justice, equity and other advocacy groups wrote to Gonzalez to urge her to make amendments as the bill would effectively kill the rooftop solar industry. IBEW contractors Sullivan Solar Power and Baker Electric Home Energy called in to give public testimony opposing this bill in addition to the Center for Sustainable Energy and GRID Alternatives, program administrators for the state's $1 billion Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing rebate program.Unfortunately, these concerns went seemingly unheard even after 75+ individuals and organizations called in to express opposition and the bill passed through the Utilities and Energy (U&E) Committee.

The U&E committee’s analysis of the bill provided no real analysis of how this bill will impact jobs, low income and CARE customers, or the multifamily sector so Hammond Climate Solutions,provided a letter with our analysis and other resources with information the committee had stated they were unaware of. In summary, our letter refutes the cost shift arguments being pushed by the utilities, provides reliable studies showinghow solar can save ratepayers billions of dollars while not going solar willcost ratepayers, outlines issues with the studies paid for by the utilities,and shows that this bill will kill rooftop solar.

The bill is now headed to the Appropriations Committee where it will be voted on again. While public comment won’t be accepted,written testimony to oppose this bill can be submitted to the committee via email at approps.committee@assembly.ca.gov.  A draft comment, with talking points can be found in our toolkit.

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Earth Day 2021: A Look Back into History, a Look Forward into Our Future

by
Shelah Ott
3 min

This year, April 22nd marks the 51st EarthDay, a holiday celebrated by folks all over the world. It started in 1970 as a“teach-in” by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who took action to shed light on the lack of attention given to the environment by American media and politics. It had been eight years since Rachel Carson published Silent Spring,over a year since the disastrous oil rig leak off the coast of Santa Barbara and less than a year since the Cuyahoga River caught on fire from industrial toxic spills.[1] Since that first Earth Day in 1970, April 22nd has become an annual time to celebrate,protect and advocate for the planet.

For some, Earth Day is a time to reconnect with nature and feel gratitude for being supported by such a resilient macro-organism that provides us with the essential elements we need to survive and thrive. Butfor many, Earth Day is also an increasingly urgent reminder of how little has changed over the past five decades, and how much needs to be done to ensure a just and livable future can prevail on this planet.

But it wouldn’t be wise to try to chart the course of our future without reckoning with our past. Indigenous peoples are the original caretakers and inhabitants of the land, yet their voices have been silenced, their land has been stolen, their subsequent treaties with the U.S.have been violated and their autonomy has been oppressed. They, along with Black, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Latinx and other communities of color have been disproportionately suffering environmental injustices[2] from systemic racism through oppressive policies, practices[3] and institutions.

It is clear that white-centric and westernized environmentalism is not the answer. The folks who have been on the frontlines since the beginning of American history should and must be central to the path forward. Reparative actions are desperately needed to prevent further harm and try to repair the relationships that white supremacy has abused. While the recent years have been devastating and tragic in endless ways, it has woken more of us up, showing us just how much work needs to be done and how we must do it. We are amidst critical times that call for us to be thoughtful in the rebuilding, including,how we can uplift and center perspectives of communities of concern who do not have the same resources and ability to participate in decision-making processes- due to lack of time, childcare, transportation, money, Internet, ability to participate in another language, etc. - to be actively involved in self-education, advocacy and the political process. This is a result of the same systems that created climate injustices and the need for advocacy and must be at the forefront of our minds for those of us who do have the privilege to be involved advocates.

It is also clear that we need more rooftop solar, not less clean energy (see this recent LA Times article), especially for communities of concern, which are often impacted by the climate crisis first and worst impacted. We need Indigenous wisdom, knowledge and sovereignty to be central to efforts, especially conservation, agriculture and soil health. We need localized, community-centric energy independence, not shareholder-drivencorporations profiting off of the backs of ratepayers. We need reparativeactions to sufficiently address redlining, which created the environmental injustices plaguing communities of concern.

We are proud to advocate for both a national Green New Deal and a San Diego Green New Deal, helping move us to zero carbon while advocating for the climate, jobs and justice for all. We invite you to get involved as well! There are many, many other solutions at our disposal and it is up to us to speak loudly and stand strong, in solidarity with those most impacted by climate injustices, to forge the path to a more just and livable future.


[1] See “The History of Earth Day” athttps://www.earthday.org/history/

[2] See “Toxic Wastes and Race in the U.S.” athttps://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1310/ML13109A339.pdf

[3] See NY Times Article “How Decades of RacistHousing Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering” athttps://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/08/24/climate/racism-redlining-cities-global-warming.html

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A Brief History of California’s Solar Agreement, Net Energy Metering 

by
Karinna Gonzalez
3 min

As we see the devastating effects of climate change across the globe, most recently in Texas where communities were suffering in freezing temperatures without water or power for days, it has become clearer than ever that we need to transform our power supply to renewable energy in order to increase resiliency. This past summer, California experienced the opposite, where sky high temperatures and demand for air conditioning resulted in rolling blackouts for California residents. In a time where it is crucial to increase the deployment of renewable energy, the United States’ largest solar market, California, is under attack. What happens in California will likely be the example for other states, and this is a crucial battle that we’re on the front lines of right now. 

The success of rooftop solar relies heavily on net energy metering (NEM), a solar producer’s agreement with the electric utility company. At a high level, NEM is a billing structure that allows solar customers to sell their excess electricity back to the grid. The amount is then applied to their utility bills, leaving the solar customer to pay the net amount of energy used. California’s first solar agreement, known as NEM 1.0, was extremely successful and accelerated the transition to solar for California residents, businesses, schools and municipalities. Since then, investor-owned utilities (IOUs) across the state have continuously attacked rooftop solar, proposing egregious policies that would make solar economically infeasible. In 2016 the second solar agreement rolled out initially in the San Diego Gas & Electric utility territory, and made its debut for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison in 2017. This successor tariff is known as NEM 2.0, and after a tough battle against the utility companies, the California Public Utilities Commission decided that the new solar rate would be similar to the first, maintaining the major benefit of allowing customers to sell electricity back to the grid at retail rates. However, NEM 2.0 required all solar customers to transition to a time-of-use (TOU) rate and non-bypassable rates. Under a TOU rate, a customer is charged different rates based on the time of the day with designated on peak and off peak times. The highest rates are during peak demand, which is late afternoon and early evening, while off peak times occur early in the morning and late at night and have the lowest cost. The new rate structure under NEM 2.0 has serious implications for solar customers, because it changes the value of the energy sold to the grid based on the time. This means that in order to get the highest NEM credits, customers need to sell the bulk of their energy during peak hours. Although NEM 2.0 is substantially less beneficial to solar customers compared to its predecessor, it still retained the major benefits of being able to sell energy back to the grid. Solar companies even began to adapt to TOU rates by designing solar systems to face west in order to capture the maximum energy possible during the late afternoon. Now, California’s IOUs are attempting to make modifications to net metering, ushering in NEM 3.0. 

As details of NEM 3.0 continue to unfold at the California Public Utilities Commission, it is clear that the IOUs are calling for drastic cuts to NEM. The California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA) estimates that the economic value of going solar will be reduced by 50-75 percent with the IOU’s proposed changes. Decisions made during these proceedings will not only affect new solar customers, but existing customers as well as the IOUs have proposed removing grandfathering periods for current customers, essentially forcing all solar customers onto NEM 3.0. 

With the understanding that NEM 3.0 could kill rooftop solar and that California is a leader and looked to as a model for shaping renewable energy programs, it is not an understatement to say that we are fighting to save solar. We are calling on organizations to sign this net metering letter and individuals to sign this petition, by early April, which will be sent to Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Public Utilities Commision. 

Our founder, Tara Hammond, began a small local coalition to save rooftop solar in California last year and the coalition has quickly grown to a statewide grassroots effort, with more than 70 organizations being involved. To learn more or to join the battle, please reach out to our Climate Justice Policy Advisor, Karinna Gonzalez at karinna@hammondclimatesolutions.com.

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Celebrating a Productive Year of Climate Action

by
Tara Hammond
3 min

Hammond Climate Solutions was founded by Tara and Justin Hammond a year ago to help expedite positive change for a just and livable future, and we’re excited to share the strides we’ve made towards our mission during a time that humbled us all.  


Before jumping in, we’d like to acknowledge our talented colleagues Shelah Ott (Climate Justice Advocate) and Karinna Gonzalez (Climate Justice Policy Advisor), who joined the team during our first year.  Their sincere passion and dedication have truly bolstered Hammond Climate Solutions’ impact.   


“When I joined the team six months ago, I knew it would be much more than a job, but I didn’t realize the full extent of the impact we would be making as a small (yet mighty) team. Reflecting on our journey and all of the accomplishments we have made in our advocacy, program management and partnership building, I can confidently say that there is nowhere else I’d rather be. Every step of the way, I have been encouraged and motivated to show up for the climate, for communities traditionally marginalized, and for my team. Working at Hammond Climate Solutions has helped me build skills and perspectives that not only support the creation of a just and livable future, but support self-sustainability, too.” 

- Shelah Ott, Climate Justice Advocate 


“As I join Hammond Climate Solutions at our year one mark, I am filled with gratitude to be joining a team who has already accomplished so much. Looking forward, I am excited to contribute to our amazing portfolio of projects, while advocating for climate policies that create a just and equitable clean energy future.” 

-Karinna Gonzalez, Climate Justice Policy Advisor 


Our work, which is centered on stopping the climate crisis and advancing climate justice, is categorized into three main areas of expertise - climate project management, policy and advocacy.  Below are highlights by category.  

Our Climate Project Management Impact 

During our first year in business we were proudly involved in 341 solar projects, resulting in 186 megawatts of new solar power systems being built across 35 states and Puerto Rico.  This solar capacity is equivalent to more than half a million solar panels, which are now energizing communities with clean energy, improving local air quality, stimulating the local economy and supporting green jobs.  


On behalf of our client Left Coast Fund, Hammond Climate Solutions manages the Solar Moonshot Program, an initiative with an annual budget of $1 million and a mission to help nonprofits afford the switch to solar and reduce the impacts of the climate crisis. 

Last year we worked with 57 nonprofit organizations across the country to help make their solar dreams a reality, and have enabled them to save money that can be reinvested into their missions.  The nonprofits ranged from eco villages to Indigineous resilience organizations, youth homeless shelters, Black women-owned organizations, schools and places of worship.  We have another $1 million budget for Solar Moonshot grants in 2021, which will help fund renewable energy projects for an estimated 40 nonprofit organizations across the nation.   


A handful of Solar Moonshot Program grant recipients have been in our home town of San Diego, including Activist San Diego, Solidarity Farm, Casa de Amparo and University Christian Church.  University Christian Church, home to the San Diego Climate Hub, which we have the pleasure of managing, awarded Hammond Climate Solutions with its “2020 Community Partner of the Year Award.”  This was our first award, and will always be dear to our hearts.


In addition to the Solar Moonshot Program, Hammond Climate Solutions also manages two electric bike “ride off” programs, one for Business for Good San Diego and another for Climate Action Campaign.  With these programs, participants are loaned an e-bike, and for every mile ridden $1 dollar is deducted from the bike loan. The goal of the programs is to ride off the entire loan and replace dirty vehicle miles travelled with human-powered, emission-free transportation.  Hammond Climate Solutions is also a partner of San Diego County’s Pedal Ahead Program, for which we facilitated the procurement of 400 e-bikes through our client’s donations. 


Hammond Climate Solutions was also hired by a local foundation to help secure public funding and get electric vehicle (EV) charging stations installed at nonprofit organizations that support traditionally underrepresented and underfunded communities (especially in respect to green infrastructure).  So far we’ve already secured $42,000 in California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program (CAleVIP) rebates, which paired with the foundation’s grants, is providing a nonprofit organization free EV charging stations for their community.  


Our Climate Policy Impact: 

Hammond Climate Solutions proudly signed on to over a dozen coalition letters to elected officials and government bodies, helping to shape policies relating to building energy efficiency standards, clean transportation, climate action plans and energy franchise agreements.  We participated in over 1,150 meetings with elected officials, coalitions and activists discussing climate policies and priorities.  We also started a coalition to protect rooftop solar in California, which plays a vital role in moving to a zero carbon future. 


Our Climate Advocacy Impact: 

Hammond Climate Solutions is a proud member of 15 nonprofit organizations, and active members of 10 coalitions.  Our team is pleased to serve in various leadership roles including:

  • Chair, California Solar+Storage Association, San Diego  
  • Vice Chair, San Diego Community Power Community Advisory Committee 
  • Steering Committee Member, San Diego Green New Deal Alliance
  • Executive Committee Member, Surfrider San Diego
  • Board Member, Climate Defenders Action Fund
  • Board President, GRID Alternatives San Diego 
  • Steering Committee Co-chair, San Diego Building Electrification Coalition
  • Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resource Development Chair, San Diego Green New Deal Alliance

We helped organize three Climate Hub events, which reached folks from across the country, and attended multiple socially-distanced, outdoor press conferences (and even multiple car caravans) related to energy franchise agreements and workers rights.

We’re a member of 1% for the Planet, whose members pledge to donate one percent of their earnings to nonprofit organizations working to stop the climate crisis.  We’re delighted to announce that Hammond Climate Solutions’ contributions far surpassed the pledge requirement. 

Lastly, our CEO Tara Hammond completed the Climate Reality Project Leadership Training, and has been sharing the scientific knowledge she gained to educate others.  


So what does this year have in store for Hammond Climate Solutions? 

We are going to take the momentum we’ve gained and continue fighting for the greater good!  We will be growing our climate project management, policy and advocacy efforts to drive more change. 


With the help of our network and communities, we look forward to accomplishing our main policy objectives of:


  • Getting a strong rooftop solar agreement at the California Public Utilities Commission while fighting off anti-solar legislation, allowing solar to grow sustainably, helping support green jobs while reducing CO2 emissions.  
  • Pushing for reach codes that would require new buildings to be all electric, lowering costs of construction while eliminating new, unnecessary gas infrastructure, which poses significant health and climate risks.   
  • Advocating that the City of San Diego gets better, short-term gas and electric franchise agreements that support the climate, equity and a plan to accelerate the transition off of fossil fuels.  
  • Updating Climate Action Plans with progressive policies, such as zero carbon, to help address the climate crisis at a faster pace, while prioritizing communities of concern, who are first and foremost impacted by climate injustices.
  • Supporting legislation that would create regional climate authorities across California 
  • Voicing support for the San Diego County Zero Carbon Sustainability Plan 
  • Advocating for policies that prioritize communities of concern in climate efforts across the country


We are excited for the second year of the Solar Moonshot Program, and will continue managing the Business for Good and Climate Action Campaign e-bike ride off programs while staying connected with the Pedal Ahead program. 


As far as new initiatives, we are working with a coalition to help bring an e-bike ride off program to residents in multi-family affordable housing complexes. We’re helping a local foundation that’s supporting lower interest EV loans for people in communities of concern. We’re expanding our reach to assist solar companies in tracking policies and being more engaged in protecting the solar and storage industry. We’ve committed to helping a global leader in energy storage with a Corporate Social Responsibility project. 


We’ll continue to advocate for good climate and equity programs that counter the climate crisis, including initiatives through our local community choice energy program, San Diego Community Power (our CEO advocated for community choice energy in San Diego County for nearly a decade, and we are thrilled to finally see San Diego Community Power officially launch this month).  


Last but certainly not least is our pursuit of helping to establish pilot programs to show proof of concept, and help lay the foundation for big public initiatives.  We welcome your creative ideas for climate programs and incentives, and look forward to helping you implement them.  


Stay updated on our efforts by following us on social media. We can be found using @HammondClimateSolutions on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, and @DynamicActions on Twitter. 

To learn more about Hammond Climate Solutions, please explore the rest of our site!

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A Year In Review: Solar Moonshot Program

by
Tara Hammond
3 min

In 2020, Hammond Climate Solutions had the pleasure of working with 46 nonprofit organizations in 24 states, to collectively deploy 3,450kW of solar power with the aid of  $1,000,000 in Solar Moonshot Program grant funding.  

The diverse group Solar Moonshot Program participants included schools, indigenous tribes, intentional communities, community centers, climate-focused centers, places of worship, youth homeless shelters, farms, community solar gardens, a black women-run media company, and many other terrific community-based groups.

The origin of the Solar Moonshot Program stems from the altruistic work of a San Diego based philanthropist, who was combating the climate crisis through an independent initiative known as the “50 Solar States Project.”  As the name suggests, the initiative aimed to fund one solar project in each of the 50 U.S. states, in order to demonstrate the practicality of using renewable energy technology in every region of the country, and to be the impetus for further local adoption. 

In February of 2020, when Hammond Climate Solutions was hired to manage the 50 Solar States Program, the outlook on our climate was far more precarious.  Reflecting together upon those circumstances led to a tactical shift in the initiative’s mission, and would emphasize swift system energization as opposed to locale in order to maximize the renewable energy project’s potential impact on the environment.  With that, the Solar Moonshot Program was born. 

 

The 2020 goal for the Solar Moonshot Program was to assist approximately 40 nonprofit organizations afford the switch to solar (photovoltaic or thermal) with or without energy storage.  Priority was given to nonprofits that had the ability to move their solar projects forward in a timely fashion but required financial assistance to close funding gaps before proceeding.  The financial resources, provided by the Left Coast Fund, for the Solar Moonshot grants would be applied to a project’s funding in different ways, such as fundraiser-matching, down payments, a capital stack contribution, or to even cover the entire system cost for smaller projects.  The average grant for 2020’s program participants was $24,269 across 46 organizations. 

  

These renewable energy systems allow the nonprofits to save money that can be reinvested in fulfilling their missions while reducing harmful CO2 emissions that are contributing to the climate crisis, lessening local air pollution, and supporting regional green jobs.  The solar power systems also offer an opportunity to educate community members about the need for a just and livable future. 

A highlight of our 2020 program was the funding of our first solar thermal project, which was done in partnership with indigineous rights and climate justice advocate, Winona LaDuke.  The grant went towards six solar thermal units at White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, which were installed by local Indigineous folks through the nonprofit 8th Fire Solar. 

We have another $1,000,000 budget for the Solar Moonshot grants in 2021, which will help fund  renewable energy projects for about 40 nonprofit organizations across the nation. 

Nonprofits interested in applying for a Solar Moonshot Program grant can visit the website, www.solarmoonshot.org. Follow us on social media for our weekly #SolarSaturday posts, which highlight the amazing nonprofits going solar and helping make the world a better place.

Below is a list of all the organizations we’ve been delighted to help:


  • Jack's Solar Garden (pictured above) in Colorado
  • Red Bird Mission in Kentucky partnership with Mountain Association
  • Glass City Community Solar in Ohio 
  • Madison West High School in partnership with the The Midwest Renewable Energy Association in Wisconsin
  • Lincoln Park Solar Garden in Minnesota in partnership with Ecolibrium
  • Activist San Diego in California, installed by IBEW Local 569 union electricians with Aloha Solar Power
  • Kroka Expeditions in Marlow, New Hampshire
  • Ekvn-Yefolecv, an Indigenous community in Weogufka, Alabama
  • Northside Community Center run by the Community Action Network (CAN) in Ann Arbor, Michigan in partnership with the City Of Ann Arbor
  • Eau Claire Public Schools in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in partnership with Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation
  • Center for Mindful Learning (Monastic Academy for the Preservation of Life on Earth) in Fletcher, Vermont
  • Canticle Farm in Oakland, California
  • White Earth Reservation installed by 8th Fire Solar in Minnesota
  • The DREAM Program in Winooski, Vermont
  • Wilmington Senior Center in Wilmington, California, in partnership with Wilmington Jaycees Foundation being installed by GRID Alternatives
  • The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano, California, being installed by IBEW Local 569 union electricians with Aloha Solar Power
  • Iron Works Cycling in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, in partnership with Appalachian Voices
  • Media Island International in Olympia, Washington, in partnership with Olympia Community Solar
  • The Workshop in Galena, Illinois
  • Church of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Virginia Beach,  Virginia
  • New Day Youth & Family Services in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • UnityPoint Health Jones Regional Medical Center in Anamosa, Iowa
  • St. John's Episcoal Church in Westwood, Massachusetts
  • Commonweal in Bolinas, California
  • University Christian Church, home of the Climate Hub in San Diego, California, installed by IBEW Local 569 union electricians at Baker Electric Home Energy
  • Common Street Spiritual Center in Natick, Massachusetts
  • The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate in San Antonio, Texas
  • El Costeño in Seattle, Washington, in partnership with the American Solar Energy Society
  • Centro PASO Aibonito in San Jose, Puerto Rico, in partnership with BQuest Foundation
  • South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Planting Justice in El Sobrante, California
  • Episcopal Diocese in Savannah, Georgia
  • Sacramento LGBT Community Center in Sacramento, California
  • Kathy's House in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts
  • Casa de Amparo in San Marcos, California, in partnership with BQuest Foundation
  • Boys Hope Girls Hope in Irvine, California
  • Congregation Beth Shalom of the Blue Hills in Milton, Massachusetts
  • Habitat for Humanity in La Crosse, Wisconsin
  • The LGBTQ Center Long Beach in Long Beach, California
  • Girl Scouts of America in Randolph, New Jersey
  • Northern California Land Trust / Peace Gardens in Berkeley, California, being installed by GRID Alternatives
  • Grace Church in Riverhead, New York
  • Humane Society of Marion County in Yelville, Arkansas
  • Second Baptist Church in Ypsilanti, Michigan 


2021 commitments thus far:

  • Solidarity Farm in Pauma Valley, California, in partnership with Circle of Life, being installed by IBEW Local 569 union electricians with Aloha Solar Power
  • Somerville Community Corporation in Somerville, Massachusetts
  • Innisfree Village in Crozet, Virginia 
  • St. Paul’s Visalia in Visalia, California 
  • NEST/SNAG Magazine in San Francisco, California  
  • Wildrock Farm in Crozet, Virginia 
  • St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama
  • Church of the Savior in Hanford, California 


Solar Moonshot Program in the news: 

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Biking as a Solution to the Climate Crisis

by
Tara Hammond
3 min

The San Diego Climate Hub hosted its second quarterly event, Biking a Solution to the Climate Crisis, on Thursday, December 10.  The San Diego community engaged in an interactive discussion about how bicycling is one of many solutions to help reduce our CO2 emissions, which exacerbate the climate crisis and contribute to climate injustices. 

 

The free event included a presentation with speakers from the nonprofit organizations Bike San Diego, Climate Action Campaign, SanDiego350 and Sierra Club San Diego, and the panel was moderated by Denice Williams with Black Girls Do Bike and the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.  After the panel there was a Zoom breakout session where fellow activists were able to get to know each other and share about their interest in biking.

San Diego is the eighth largest city in the nation yet ranks sixth for having the worst air pollution. Communities of concern, surrounded by freeways in San Diego, experience higher rates of asthma and pollution related-illnesses, and have a shorter lifespan than communities in other parts of the city.  This is an example of a climate injustice. More people who bike instead of drive dirty, gas vehicles can help reduce local air pollution, which was highlighted during the event. 

 

"Communities of color need to be prioritized for all sustainable transportation improvements that will ensure that they have more access to clean air and affordable transportation options,” said Bertha Rodriguez, the Assistant Organizer at Climate Action Campaign, who presented on Thursday.  “By centering equity and looking at biking through an intersectional lens, we can start breaking down the disparities caused by race, class, gender and ability in order to promote a more inclusive climate revolution."


The San Diego Climate Hub is a center, located in Hillcrest, to strategize, collaborate and build collective power to stop the climate crisis and advance climate justice in the San Diego region. The nonprofit members include Bike San Diego, Climate Action Campaign, SanDiego350, San Diego Coastkeeper and Surfrider Foundation San Diego County, and it’s managed by Hammond Climate Solutions. The purpose of the Climate Hub is to catalyze collaborative local and regional solutions to stop the climate crisis, and quarterly events are a way to bring together activists to share education, resources and people power to create a brighter future.  

The next quarterly Climate Hub event will be in partnership with the San Diego Green New Deal Alliance on February 23 at 5:30 p.m. More details will be available at www.sdclimatehub.org.

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Sustainability Intention Setting for the New Year

by
Shelah Ott
3 min

New Year's resolutions likely will look different this year, if they haven’t been written off entirely as we grapple with the heavy effects of the continued pandemic. The past year has shown us how important it is to take time to decompress and make space for productivity being less of a priority during a global pandemic that has rippled effects in public health, physically, mentally and emotionally. While this is still the case now, entering a new year is a great time to set intentions and think about the year ahead. 


We’re thinking about the ways we can be sustainable in 2021 that are also sustainable in the midst of the pandemic. Here are our favorites if you, too, need some inspiration to combat the climate crisis this year:


  • Transition to a low-waste lifestyle: in order to make wasteless habits sustainable for yourself, it’s suggested to take baby steps. Rather than phasing out all single-use items in your house, start with one area, like the kitchen. Replace paper towels with reusable ones like these, or see if you have any unused cotton clothing you can use as an even lower-waste and economic alternative. You can go to zero waste shops, like Earthwell Refill in San Diego, a black-owned zero waste refill store to refill household products instead of buying a new container when the product is done. The Buy Nothing Project has local Facebook groups where you can give away items you no longer need and also request items you need, helping reduce waste while getting to know your neighbors. 
  • Cut emissions by biking, walking or taking public transportation: while we’re not getting out much during quarantine, it still makes a difference to opt for biking, walking or taking public transportation instead of driving for local trips, if possible.
  • Spend time with soil: connecting with nature is an easy way to reduce stress, take a break from the sedentary lifestyle (that most of us experience) and see the nourishing, symbiotic relationship that’s possible between the earth and us humans. Stand on the grass to “ground” and rebalance your body, or plant seeds to grow your own low-cost, local, sustainable foods.
  • Embrace the activist within: each of us has the ability to be an activist in our own way. Find what you like most so it’s sustainable; it may look like speaking during public comment at a city council meeting, volunteering at a local climate organization, or signing onto letters and petitions.
  • Find sustainable eating options: When you’re tired of cooking, especially during the pandemic, restaurants  can use support. When you want to order food, opt for local, small businesses that try to integrate organic foods and sustainability into their operations. No one business is perfect, but many are trying to make a difference, like SOULMUCH, with their mission to reduce food waste by rescuing unused grains and turning them into cookies. You can look for Surfrider’s Ocean-Friendly Restaurant certification. 


We hope that you are able to enter 2021 with some renewed hope, inspiration and motivation despite the year we are leaving behind. And if not, self-care is likely the most important priority. After all, we cannot fight the climate crisis and strive for sustainability if we ourselves are not taken care of.


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How to Celebrate the Holidays Sustainably in the time of COVID-19

by
Shelah Ott
3 min

If you’re scrambling for last-minute holiday gifts (like some of us), it can be tempting to give in to Amazon Prime delivery and the holiday deals at big businesses, throw the likely unethically and unsustainably made items in a gift bag, and call it a day. But with economic losses resulting from the pandemic, and continued impacts of climate injustices,it is even more important to shop ethically and sustainably this year.


With transportation accounting for 28 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by economic sector in 2018, and an increase in package deliveries around the holidays, shopping at local, small-owned businesses with sustainably made or second hand gifts is one of the best ways to resist climate change and stimulate the local economy. If you choose to leave your house for holiday shopping, walking or biking to a small owned business is encouraged. In particular, we’re considering how we can best support small businesses owned by Black folks, Indigenous friends and People of Color. If there’s one thing we took from 2020, it’s that our actions are needed to continue showing up for racial and environmental justice.


With the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, shopping in person is not considered the safest option for folks. Many small businesses have gotten creative with local delivery and if you have friends or family who will be shopping in person this year, consider reaching out to them to arrange no-contact drop offs from your favorite local shops. If neither of those options are working out, consider getting gifts delivered to your loved ones from small businesses local to them, so you can save on emissions from shipping presents to them from where you are. In these uncertain times, we’re reminded that the health of our communities and the health of the planet are interdependent. Regardless of whether or not you’re leaving your house to get gifts, there are so many other ways to celebrate sustainably this holiday season--and for good reason. The EPA estimates that the American household waste increases by more than 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day for an estimated additional one million tons of wasted food, shopping bags and gift wrap per week! Along with buying items that are ethically and sustainably made, here are additional tips for a more conscious holiday celebration this year:


1) Say no to plastic and paper bags when buying presents

  • This one may be a little harder while reusable bags are not allowed in some stores, but many stores will allow you to bring them in as long as you bag your items yourself.

2) Rethink gift wrapping

  • If you don’t have gift wrap or bags leftover from previous years, instead of buying new ones, you can opt to use newspaper, reusable bags, reusable gift wrap (for a gift that really keeps on giving!), any leftover shopping bags or just skip the wrapping altogether! If you’re sending packages yourself, consider looking on websites like OfferUp, Buy Nothing or Nextdoor for free shipping boxes.

3) Aim for little to no food waste

  • In San Diego, we typically throw away 40 percent of food, which is higher than the national average. Instead of contributing to that already staggering number, we can be proactive about food waste this year and prevent an increase in methane emissions from adding to over overflowing landfills. We can do this by preparing “just enough” rather than way too much, distributing leftovers to friends, family and houseless folks, freezing leftovers we’re likely to eat and composting the scraps we don’t use while cooking.

4) Get creative for gift giving

  • Do-It-Yourself (DIY) gifts are even more popular this year as we’re spending most of our time at home. Think outside the box for a meaningful, hand-made gift that uses household items. Need inspiration? Pinterest always has great DIY ideas!

5) Gift intentional quality time to your quarantine partners

  • If you’re quarantining with someone you want to spend quality time with, like a friend or significant other, consider planning a thoughtful hangout or date at a COVID-safe place like your home or a park that isn’t crowded. Make it special with energy efficient LED string lights, games, plant-based and locally sourced food (if accessible) and holiday-themed sweaters and music!

6) Gift a donation on behalf of a loved one

  • A great alternative to buying people more things they likely don’t need is donating to a nonprofit organization on behalf of the person receiving the gift. You can even symbolically adopt an animal through the World Wildlife Fund, and the funds go towards programs to help conserve and protect that species.

7) And for last minute gift ideas…


Thanks for caring and reading this post. Individual actions add up and can make an impact reducing carbon emissions contributing to the climate crisis. Happy holidays! 

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

- Margaret Mead

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