LOS ANGELES – State Senator Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) and the California Latino Legislative Caucus convened “El Poder Verde” Green Jobs Summit last week in downtown Los Angeles. The summit was organized to bring together public and private sector stakeholders mobilizing the “green movement” throughout the state. Organizers and participants stressed the importance of meeting climate change goals while providing high quality and lasting employment at all skill levels, and in particular, in poor and underserved communities.
Chairwoman Karen Douglas of the California Energy Commission gave a keynote address at an opening reception on Thursday evening. She cited California´s leadership on renewable energy innovation, targets for lowering emissions and suggested that unlike the dot-com economic boom, the benefits of a green economic movement will reach all levels of the workforce. “The clean energy revolution done at scale will demand workers from a wider range of skill sets. It will draw on research from our universities which are among the best in the world, engineers, scientists; and also people in building, manufacturing and infrastructure,” remarked Douglas.
On Friday, Commissioner Dian Grueneich of the California Public Utilities Commission gave her first public comments on the recent CPUC approval of $3.9 billion investment into energy efficiency programs. The economic outcome is expected to achieve 15,000 – 18,000 new jobs, $122 million for workforce training, $260 million for local government programs and an additional $750 million for low-income home retrofits and appliances. “We are pleased to work with Senator Cedillo and the Latino Caucus to engage Latinos and Latino-owned businesses in each of the program areas,” shared Commissioner Grueneich.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Latino-owned businesses, workers, and our next generation to advance their participation in California´s economy,” remarked Cedillo. “College graduates, businesses in construction, industrial, commercial and agricultural sectors and workers displaced by the worst economic downturn in a generation will all have the chance to obtain contracts or jobs that improve environmental outcomes and strengthen their own financial well-being.”
Three separate panel discussions explored emerging sectors and job opportunities within the green economy; the regulatory and partnership opportunities for state, local and private partnerships; and success factors for effective job training. Over 120 people packed a conference room to hear presentations. Orson Aguilar, Executive Director of the Greenlining Institute, urged policymakers and business leaders to leverage environmental investments and policy into long-term asset and economic development for underserved communities. “Sustainable solutions are not only possible and economically sustainable but essential for our survival,” said Aguilar. Other speakers included Barbara Halsey, Executive Director of the California Workforce Investment Board; and Raquel Rivera Pinderhughes, Professor of Urban Studies at CSU San Francisco.
“California has rich natural resources that uniquely position us to develop a broad green energy portfolio. We also have a highly diverse population, globally competitive businesses and educational institutions. By focusing our efforts we can improve environmental outcomes, build better communities and better jobs,” Cedillo said.