We are on the verge of a clean energy revolution that has potential to create millions of new jobs, revive our economy, and finally free us from our dependence on foreign oil. It is refreshing that we will soon have a president that understands the importance of investing in the green economy to secure America's future prosperity and security. But, it is equally important that we invest our money in programs that are working.
Last week, President-elect Obama announced that the nation's economic stimulus plan - will double alternative energy production in three years, cut the use of fossil fuels by improving energy efficiency in 2 million homes and 75 percent of federal buildings, and invest heavily in public transportation.
As Congress debates Obama's plan to create millions of green jobs, it is critical to ensure that these jobs are inclusive and our money is spent wisely. In San Francisco, we are doing this through our solar incentive program, GoSolarSF, the nation's largest solar municipal rebate program. GoSolarSF offers a bigger rebate to companies that hire workers from the city's workforce development program. Since the program launched in July, applications for new solar installations have nearly quadrupled.
On my Green 960 radio show this past week, I discussed the green collar economy with Van Jones, founder of Green for All and author of a best selling book on the topic and Dave Lorens, founder of 1 Block Off the Grid (1BOG), a San Francisco based company that is transforming the solar industry. Listen to the podcast.
"Who will get these jobs? Are there pathways out of poverty into prosperity? The big opportunity we have here is to build a green economy that Dr. King would be proud of," said Van Jones. "This is not our great-grandmother's economy that we are trying to fix in terms of inclusion and equity. This is one we are going to build ourselves, in our lifetime, so let's [build this new clean energy sector] with inclusion built in."
1BOG's web site organizes homeowners to bargain together to drive down the costs of solar installation, and selects solar companies that hire installers through city workforce development programs. Members of 1BOG first solar program negotiated up to a 43% savings for participants. The company launched in San Francisco, the day after we passed GoSolarSF, and has spread to 20 cities.
As Obama's new energy plan takes shape we should look to innovative companies like 1BOG and programs like GoSolarSF that provide opportunities for all communities to have a place in the new, green economy.