Contact: Joshua Arce (Brightline) 415-252-9700
Samuel Kang (Greenlining) 510-926-4004

Thirty Percent Low-Income Community Workforce Unparalled In Green Sector, Start Date In November

October 14, 2009, San Francisco, CA—There will be no better case study on the potential for green jobs to create a pathway out of poverty than when San Francisco’s 5-megawatt, 25,000-panel Sunset Reservoir solar project breaks ground this November.  In April of this year, San Francisco’s CityBuild program began working with San Francisco-based Recurrent Energy to channel green jobs advocates’ and city policymakers’ desire to see no less than 30% of the project’s workforce drawn from the city’s most underserved and unemployed neighborhoods.  CityBuild and San Francisco community-based organizations will soon begin the process of recruiting qualified economically disadvantaged residents who have been trained in a variety of skills, including solar installation, in an effort to revitalize the city’s most vulnerable communities.

Upon completion, the Sunset Reservoir project will be the largest municipal solar project in the country, and the construction process is expected to create dozens of green sector jobs.  Groups such as Green for All, Greenlining Institute, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and Brightline Defense Project that call for an all-inclusive vision of building a green economy that includes a role for communities of color, limited-English speakers, women, and the formerly incarcerated have for months anticipated construction of the Sunset Reservoir plant, encouraging other cleantech companies to follow Recurrent Energy’s lead in embracing community-based hiring.

“There is a growing collaboration between government and community-based organizations to train residents in low-income communities, particularly in neighborhoods like Bayview-Hunters Point that have historically been polluted by dirty power plants, to participate in the greening of our economy,” said Brightline Defense Project Executive Director Joshua Arce.  In May, Brightline and the Southeast Jobs Coalition workforce collaborative coordinated a three-day solar internship for twenty Bayview and Visitacion Valley residents in which solar installers Grid Alternatives and Luminalt provided training to possible candidates for the Sunset Reservoir installation.

“Where the green economy has the most opportunity to grow is in underserved and minority communities,” said Sam Kang, managing attorney of the statewide policy and advocacy institute Greenlining.  “We supported this project because it creates jobs for the communities that need them the most while capitalizing on a tangible opportunity for the green economy to take root in diverse communities.  It’s a win-win.” Greenlining has since sought to make thirty percent a baseline minimum in terms of green workforce opportunities in underserved communities on solar projects initiated through the California Public Utilities Commission.

“This project will create upwards of 60 new jobs, including electricians, laborers and operators within San Francisco communities.  Beyond this, additional community members will have a hand in this project as it relates to numerous other key activities,” said Arno Harris, CEO of Recurrent Energy. “The magnitude of the project showcases the benefits of solar as a great economic multiplier.”