(Em)powering Our Neighborhoods: Bringing Clean Energy Home

Spring 2021 Series

April 21, 2021 7:00 pm OnlineWatch on YouTube

Speaker BiosResources

Most New Yorkers can’t install their own rooftop solar, so community-based renewable energy is an essential climate solution for our city. Who’s building these projects, and what policies would help? Where do social justice and energy innovation intersect? Join our panel for a discussion of community-based green energy initiatives that slash pollution and cut energy bills while delivering good green jobs.

Speaker Bios

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Carlos Garcia is the Energy Planner for the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA), a network of grassroots organizations from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. NYC-EJA advocates for improved environmental conditions and against inequitable environmental burdens. Garcia’s work supports renewable energy investment in low-to-moderate-income communities and energy transitions that lead to a low-carbon pathway. His role involves data analysis, advocacy, project management, and policy and economic modeling.

Gabriel Jamison is a co-founder of the Brownsville Residents Green Committee (BRGC), a BIPOC environmental justice community organization focused on stopping the construction of a fracked-gas pipeline running through the neighborhood. He also leads BRGC’s solar community fridge project, a sustainable mutual aid project. He coordinated Solar Pioneers, a work development program to provide green job training in the solar industry, and has served as program manager of the Flatbush Leadership Academy and on Brooklyn Community Board 16.

Max Joel is the Program Manager of the NY-Sun Initiative at the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA). NY-Sun is a statewide initiative to build 6 Gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025 and includes a program to benefit low- and moderate-income households, affordable housing, and environmental justice communities. Previously, Max was Director of Community Solar Initiatives at Solar One, a nonprofit organization in New York City. He lives in Brooklyn and is a frequent borrower from the Cortelyou branch library.

Summer Sandoval is Energy Democracy Coordinator at UPROSE, a Sunset Park-based group that promotes sustainability and resiliency through community organizing, education, indigenous and youth leadership development, and cultural and artistic expression. She is working on the development of Sunset Park Solar, New York’s first community solar cooperative. She also organizes against new peaker power plants and is part of the team implementing UPROSE’s Green Resilient Industrial District, a community-led waterfront jobs and development plan.

Moderator Daphany Rose Sanchez is founder and executive director of Kinetic Communities, a certified Benefit Corporation that provides energy efficiency consulting to energy and affordable housing partners. By partnering with local government, private sector entities, and nonprofit institutions, Kinetic Communities enhances community engagement with energy efficiency. Kinetic Communities works with partners to expand communication and expose information on energy efficiency for New Yorkers.


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The Big Picture

Facing the climate crisis, facing social inequity: our moment calls for bold action on many fronts. Here in New York City, gas and oil-powered electric “peaker” power plants dot our most vulnerable neighborhoods, contributing mightily to the health burdens these areas bear — including some of the highest rates of asthma in the country. Meanwhile, construction continues on a new fracked-gas pipeline running through some of these same neighborhoods.

The fight for a healthy, climate-friendly city depends on reducing and eliminating fossil fuel dependency while accelerating the buildup of clean, renewable energy. Some New Yorkers can install their own rooftop solar, but that’s not an option for most of us. Community-based renewable electricity is an essential climate solution.

Community-based Renewable Energy Projects in NYC

Sunset Park Solar will be NYC’s first community solar project owned and operated by a cooperative for the benefit of local residents and businesses. The solar energy system will be owned and managed by Co-op Power’s New York City Community Energy Cooperative in partnership with UPROSE.

South Bronx Community Resiliency Agenda will include the Hunts Point Solar project, designed to serve the Hunts Point community in the South Bronx. It will install solar panels on an existing warehouse to offer renewable energy subscriptions to the community.

New York State’s Community Solar Initiative

NY-Sun (Solar Initiative), is part of New York State Energy Research and Development (NYSERDA). This initiative helps individuals and communities throughout New York State sign up for solar energy subscriptions. Find qualified community solar projects with NYSERDA’s interactive map.

The Fight Against Local Fossil Fuel-Powered Peaker Plants

Peaker plants are electric generation stations that only work during periods of peak demand, usually during extreme weather. They only run 15% of the time, at most, but they emit twice as much carbon dioxide per unit of electricity generated, and they spew as much as twenty times as much of the pollutants that cause respiratory disease. Most of them are in low-income areas and communities of color. The PEAK Coalition campaigns to end this long-standing pollution burden, eliminating these plants through a combination of renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage solutions. Learn more here.

Tell Governor Cuomo and the PSC not to repower the fracked gas plant in Gowanus: Stop the Gowanus Fracked Gas Plant!

For more on the peaker fight:

The Fight to Stop the North Brooklyn Gas Pipeline

National Grid is building an expanded fracked gas pipeline through Bedford Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick, and Greenpoint. The No North Brooklyn Pipeline Coalition—made up of Sane Energy Project, Frack Outta Brooklyn and the Brownsville Residents Green Coalition — are organizing against construction of this pipeline. They say the pipeline will not serve the affected communities, will pose safety risks to the area while promoting dependence on gas, and will emit methane, a greenhouse gas that is 86-100 times worse for atmospheric warming than carbon dioxide.

Tell the New York State Public Service Commission to deny the NBK pipeline and LNG buildout:
Send a comment opposing NBK pipeline.

For more information, check out these articles:

The Movement for Energy Democracy and Publicly-Owned Power

Climate Justice Alliance is an alliance of 74 urban and rural frontline communities, organizations and supporting networks in the climate justice movement. The Alliance’s policy plan on energy democracy calls for recognizing energy as a public good through community governance of energy development, equitable electrification and energy efficiency retrofits, and prioritizing BIPOC, frontline, and poor people in energy supply and distribution decisions. Learn more at
Climate Justice Alliance: Energy Democracy.

NY Energy Democracy Alliance is a statewide alliance of grassroots groups and policy experts working together to advance a just and participatory transition to a resilient, localized, and democratically controlled clean energy economy in New York State. EDA envisions a renewable energy system that is led by and prioritizes solutions for low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color who are most negatively impacted by our current energy and economic system.

Public Power NYC is a DSA campaign to replace our privately owned local utilities with a
publicly owned, democratically run utility with a mandate to achieve safe, reliable, affordable and
100% renewable energy service.

Learn About and Support NYC-based Environmental Justice Organizations

The New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA), founded in 1991, is a non-profit, citywide membership network linking grassroots organizations from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color in their struggle for environmental justice.

NY Renews is a coalition of 200+ environmental, labor, and social justice organizations (including 350Brooklyn and UPROSE) that works on state policies that promote climate justice and good jobs. NY Renews was the driving force behind the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act that the New York legislature passed in 2019.

The Point CDC is a non-profit dedicated to youth development, as well as cultural and economic revitalization in the Hunts Point area of the South Bronx.

RenewYorkCity is a mission-based operation that organizes local communities to efficiently transition to a clean energy economy by leveraging Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). CCA allows communities to choose renewable energy sources.

UPROSE, based in Sunset Park, is Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization, and a leading advocate of climate justice. UPROSE spearheaded the campaign to build a wind turbine assembly hub now planned for Sunset Park.