California’s clean energy economy is taking off, putting Californians to work in good jobs and helping California employment to grow faster than the rest of the U.S. Today over 430,000 Californians work in energy efficiency, solar power and related fields. This tremendous growth is ripe for policies and strategies to promote inclusion and diversity. The clean energy economy already employs a more diverse workforce than traditional energy industries like coal mining. For example, across the U.S., “solar Installation employs 16,000 more Latinos, 4,000 more African-Americans, 5,000 more Asian/Pacific-Islanders and 10,000 more women than the coal mining industry, which is 87% white and male.”
While employment is important, we also need to encourage diversity among businesses in this emerging market. Entrepreneurship is key to the American dream, and all communities should have equal access to business opportunities. Racial and ethnic minorities, disabled veterans, women and the LGBTQ community make up over 75 percent of Californians, and these communities must be fully included in California’s clean energy economy for it to truly soar and continue to spur our state’s economic success.
EMPOWER CALIFORNIA ACT, AB 865
Greenlining sponsors AB 865 (Alejo), the EmPower California Act.
AB 865 will require some recipients of grants and loans from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to take steps to boost purchasing of goods and services from women-, minority-, disabled veteran- and LGBTQ-owned businesses. AB 865 will also require that the CEC create guidelines and an outreach plan to get more diverse businesses involved in the projects it funds.
These directives will create a more fair, just, and healthy economy by increasing economic opportunities in communities that most need them while encouraging diverse businesses to compete with entrenched suppliers, leading to better products and services at lower prices.
THE GOOD ECONOMY
We need to make business opportunities abundant and accessible to ethnic businesses, particularly those located in disadvantaged communities, in order to reduce wealth inequality and fight pollution (which hits hardest in communities of color). But these businesses face varied and unique challenges that limit their participation in the clean energy economy.
In response, Greenlining launched a series of convenings and a day of action with ethnic business chambers and associations in California to share information about new contracting opportunities from the state’s environmental initiatives and to learn about the many obstacles ethnic businesses face when competing for publically funded contracts. We hosted three separate convenings, titled “The Good Economy,” in Fresno, Oakland, and Los Angeles, followed by the Good Economy Day of Action in Sacramento on April 29, 2015. The Day of Action began with a legislative briefing (co-hosted with the Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, The Legislative Black Caucus, and The Latino Legislative Caucus), followed by a lobby day and roundtable discussion with key administrative agencies and ethnic business leaders.