Photo by L. Goren
Today over 200 social justice and clean energy advocates from across the state of Virginia joined the NAACP lobby day in Richmond to advocate for the passage of top environmental justice legislation including HB 1902, The Solar Demonstration Projects Grant Program.
HB 1902 establishes a $1 billion grant program to provide free solar installations to public institutions and schools (elementary, middle and high) with a preference given to low income urban and rural areas. The result will be lower energy costs for vulnerable communities.
Currently, the rapidly evolving solar systems technology often results in monthly energy bill savings of 20 – 40%. Some experts believe applicable institutions could save anywhere from $200.00 – $400.00 per month on a $1000.00 electric bill through this program. The $1 billion HB 1902 requests are based on the estimated amount that multi-year overcharges cost customers of Dominion Energy and other power companies in Virginia. The State Corporation Commission has mandated that the overcharged money be set aside and used primarily for renewable energy. In essence, the money is already set aside to be used exactly for this type of innovative program.
Once passed by the General Assembly, HB 1902 would create a well-structured method for public institutions to access grant monies to substantially help reduce monthly power bills.
“As President of Virginia State Conference NAACP representing our members in 80 branches across Virginia, we stand in solid support of HB 1902 as a benefit to churches, religious institutions and K-12 public schools across Virginia. Given the tight budgets in many urban and rural communities – some of the economically hardest hit in Virginia – passage of HB 1902 will be a boon for many who already have very tight budgets.
As an extra benefit, NAACP members and many church leaders look forward to discussions about creating job training programs aimed to help train youth and adults in the rapidly growing renewable energy sectors,” said Rev. Kevin L. Chandler, President Virginia State Conference NAACP.
It’s time for Virginia to serious get behind clean, safe, renewable energy. HB1902 ensures that low-income communities through their religious institutions, K-12 public schools, and government-owned buildings are able to benefit from solar energy. Every district has institutions that would greatly benefit from the $1 billion investment in solar energy helping both the institution and the community,” said Andrea Miller, Virginia Poor People’s Campaign.
As the Pastor of a church in a rural area, I know first-hand the struggles our members and the community face every day. After learning about and discussing HB 1902, our congregation, other area congregations, and Pastors along with the broader community are very excited to fully support passage of this Bill. The forward-thinking and innovative mindset of NAACP leaders to help form this type of helpful Bill is a win-win the way we see it. In order to help the least among us and those who now find themselves needing help like never before, our support of HB 1902 just makes plain old granddaddy common sense,” said Emmanuel Harris, Jerusalem Baptist Church, Pastor. Baptist Minister’s Conference of Goochland & Vicinity, Member. Baptist Minister’s Conference of Richmond & Vicinity, 1st Vice President.
“It’s time for Virginians to take back our money from Dominion to protect ourselves
from the worst impacts of climate change. We’re behind on solar but our leaders have an opportunity to show Big Oil that we can headline the movement to create clean jobs and invest in our most vulnerable communities. We’re ready to stop using fossil fuels and focus on renewable energy now,” said David Hunt, Food & Water Watch Chief Strategist.