At a recent PowerUp NYC town hall meeting in Downtown Brooklyn, city officials, clean energy experts, community leaders and New Yorkers convened to discuss the city’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2040 and a full energy transition of decarbonizing buildings and transportation sectors by 2050.
The 2017 enactment of Local Law 248 mandates the publication of a city-wide Long-Term Energy Plan every four years. PowerUp NYC — a collaborative, year-long planning study, will publish a final report that serves as the first iteration of the Long-Term Energy Plan.
The program includes a series of town hall meetings and expert-led research. This process will influence the final report in 2023, which details ways to switch to electric energy-efficient buildings, transportation use and a fully electric grid to power it all.
“It is difficult for an average New Yorker to participate in energy planning -- even if they care about climate change and clean energy, just because those planning processes aren’t always transparent or easy to access because they’re so filled with jargon,” Claudia Villar-Leeman, energy policy advisor for NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice said.
Translating concepts into plain language and incorporating people into the planning process plays a key role in the study.
“Low-income communities and communities of color are often the most impacted by the impact of climate change and have been historically marginalized from decision-making processes,” Villar-Leeman said.
“Our office aims at addressing that head-on and making sure that we are including voices from frontline communities to shape the energy transition, and direct the benefits of energy transition towards the communities who need it most.”
Community leaders shared their sentiments on the city’s proposed solutions.
“The health and economic well-being of our communities is directly tied to the environment around us; we do not want important decisions to be made for us, rather we firmly believe in the power of community and fight for our voices to be heard.”Jessica Balgobin, special initiatives manager of Chhaya Community Development Corporation
“Right now, disadvantaged communities do not equitably receive amounts of funding from the city of New York to complete these beneficial upgrades; they mostly only go to these already wealthy communities,” Briana Carbajal, state legislative manager for WE ACT For Environmental Justice said.
Carbajal's organization is petitioning for funding equity in the expensive building upgrades.
“I believe very deeply that the solutions to the climate crisis are in our communities and it’s at town hall events like these where we bring together local leaders, and community members to share expertise, guidance and input,” Lincoln Restler, council member for New York City’s District 33 said.
“That’s how we’re going to make progress, together!”