VICE News: Black People Are Being Shut Out of the Clean Energy Boom

By Geoff Dembicki

Just 8 percent of employees at solar companies are Black. President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion stimulus could change that.

Ajulo Othow is trying to fix racism and climate change at the same time. 

She owns a company in North Carolina that puts solar panels on land owned by Black people. The landowners can potentially earn profits seven times what they might get using their land for crops. The amount they have to pay for electricity—which can exceed 40 percent of people’s incomes in poor rural areas—goes down. And North Carolina becomes less exposed to power outages caused by extreme weather.

“Wealth creation actually makes folks less vulnerable to environmental hazards,” Othow said. “At the same time we’re reducing our risk of those hazards by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.”

Companies like Othow’s are in theory poised for fast growth in the U.S. They could be prime beneficiaries of the $2 trillion infrastructure package now being debated in Congress, which President Joe Biden promises “will lead to a transformational progress in our effort to tackle climate change” while also prioritizing “communities that have historically been left out of these investments: Black, Latino, Asian American, Native American, rural, small businesses, entrepreneurs across the country.”

… If the Senate approves Biden’s infrastructure bill in its current form, $27 billion could be made available for community-level clean energy projects that might not qualify for traditional loans or financing. At least 40 percent of the investments must go to communities that have not so far benefited from the green economy.  

“We’re thrilled,” said Jeffrey Schub, the executive director of the Coalition for Green Capital, which advocates for climate solutions that can also reduce racial and income disparities. “It’s further confirmation that this administration is not joking around on this topic.”

Read the full article here.

Recent News