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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oakland, Calif., passes Energy and Climate Action Plan. Using crowdfunding model local residents participate in community solar initiatives in a pilot program called Solar Mosaic

On March 1, 2011, the city of Oakland, Calif., passed an Energy and Climate Action Plan whose goals make it one of the leading cities for greenhouse gas reduction goals. By 2020, if those goals are met, Oakland's greenhouse gas emissions will be 36% below 2005 levels by 2020. By 2050, they will be 85% below 2005 levels. It took two years of advocacy by the Oakland Climate Action Coalition to get the city council to take this action. Focused on reducing both pollution and poverty, OCAC has united a slew of organizations and thousands of the city's residents to put together a program to reduce green house gas emissions, increase the capacity of communities to adapt to the effects of climate change and build "a robust sustainable economy with good green job opportunities."
One of the unique projects to emerge from these efforts contains a familiar name among its supporters. Working together with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Baker Center co-founder Van Jones's Rebuild the Dream initiative, Solar Mosaic is helping the city of Oakland, Calif., build a clean energy economy, one solar tile at a time. Maria Galluci at SolveClimate News writes:
Photo: Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
By selling 5,000 tiles at $100 each to locals, the city is aiming to piece together entire rooftop solar arrays at seven budget-strapped schools, youth centers and houses of worship. A team of Oaklanders will be trained and hired to install the panels by as early as July.
The city's efforts are part of a pilot program called Solar Mosaic, a web-based marketplace for community solar initiatives that launched on April 15.
Using the "crowdfunding" model, residents can help generate energy savings and scale back greenhouse gas emissions without having to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for a solar installation at home.
They'll also help create jobs for a budding green-collar workforce in a city with the state's highest crime rates and where 17.5% of people live below the poverty line, compared to 13% nationally.
"There is this huge gap between the population that wants to go solar and the people that actually have," Billy Parish, president of Solar Mosaic, told SolveClimate News.  "We saw an opportunity to connect those dots."
Parish said he and fellow co-founder Daniel Rosen first conceived of the mosaic concept while working to develop renewable energy projects with Native American tribes in the U.S. Southwest and Great Plains regions. …
If Oakland can do it, how can the residents of any city say it's too difficult?

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