Meeting Minutes – May 2016

Green Neighbors Meeting

Tuesday, May 16, 2016

Present: Catherine, Basav, Rubin, Dolores, Elizabeth, and Lisa

 

Agenda:

  • Fair elections campaign –

o   What is it?

  • As a way to partially getting around a flood of money in DC on a local level there is legislation at city council that will set up a system of matching public funds for those candidates who make a voluntary commitment to reject corporate contributions (any incorporated entity) and large individual donors.  This makes smaller campaigns competitive with candidates who do take “big” money and clean up local DC politics.
  • This allows politicians to refrain from taking $ from polluting entities
  • ANC 4D has already endorsed, and we’re trying to get ANC 4C, 4A, 4B to endorse this legislation
  • This does not get around the issue of Super PACs – any politician who signs this pledge cannot raise funds for a Super PAC.
  • Is there a limit on individual contributions?  Yes, each individual cannot in the aggregate contribute large amounts.
  • Can Green Neighbors members call or email your ANC Commissioner to get this on the 4C/A/B agenda for the next meetings.
  • Basav will send FAQs to Green Neighbors list and send out a DC Government link for everyone to identify which ANC they’re in and which Commissioner is theirs.

 

  • Renewable Portfolio Standards Expansion Act

o   Green Neighbors just signed on to the DC RPS which set more aggressive goals – 50% of energy from renewable sources by 2032

o   Provision for Solar for All – solar on the roofs of low income (60% or 80% of median income – not sure) homeowners

o   Renewable is defined as wind, solar, heat from waste water – may include hydro

o   Legislation has come forth and there is a coalition working on it

o   Lisa and Basav met with Brandon Todd about supporting the legislation and he’s verbally agreed to support it, but he needs more info to make a solid decision.

o   Standard Community Solar – people can buy into solar without having it on their roofs

 

  • Celebrate Petworth  – 6/4

o   On Upshur between 8th and 9th – Green Neighbors has been invited back again this year

o   Need to do a fun activity – need help deciding what that is.

o   Rubin suggested “Fashion and the environment” – cosmetics, hair products, etc.

o   And ways to calculate and  reduce your carbon footprint

o   Lisa suggested something about bees and other pollinators

o   Elizabeth will make a poster about plants that are good for pollinators

o   Rubin will send Catherine information about fashion and Catherine will make a poster

 

  • Sustainability Day @ Petworth Community Market – 6/11, 10a2p

o   Tabling –

  • Give away information about saving energy and Groundswell materials
  • Hand out articles about Bees – re: Neonicotinamides  (no action to ban in DC)
  • Talk w/Fritz about possibly bringing pictures of his bees or some beeswax for people to smell (Catherine will talk to him)

 

  • Lac-Mégantic, Quebec – horrible train accident w/only one staff member on the train (Catherine reading message from Fritz)

o   Oil transporting train that exploded and caused many fatalities

o   Make July 6 a day to remember those who died and discuss and support railway safety.

o   Address rail safety in DC in light of the recent derailment near the Rhode Island Metro Station.

o   Green Neighbors supports the idea of an event. We would rather join forces with someone already planning an event instead of creating our own.

 

  • Guest Speaker – Nadya Dutchin from Groundswell:

o   Groundswell is offering commercial and residential wind program throughout the entire year which is different from years past when there were only spring and fall campaign windows during which folks could sign up.  A specific link and messaging will be generated for Green Neighbors if you’d like to encourage members of the community to sign up their homes for wind power ($5-$10 more each month) or their businesses, which in many cases can provide a cost saving.

o   We’ve also released our new residential energy efficiency (EE) program to help homeowners address the inefficiency of their homes.  The QHEC versions are free for renters and homeowners through BGE and Pepco and are very basic assessments.  There is a full EE audit which is directed towards homeowners and costs $100 (this normally costs $400, but BGE and Pepco subsidize $300 of this).  Our Energy Coach, Dave Wright, would help walk the homeowner through suggested upgrades and help them prioritize which retrofits should be done first.  We also have a commercial EE program for local businesses in Montgomery Co and Anne Arundel Co, MD for which there is some creating financing available through the PACE program to help businesses become more efficient and implement energy/clean energy upgrades.

o   The most exciting thing we’ve been doing has been around Community or Shared Solar: Community solar is solar that is placed in a host location (open field or building) and allows the public or a set of people who rent or own their home to subscribe to a portion of the array.

  • Generally, people can outright purchase one or more panels and receive the energy offsets on their utility bill, but you still need to have the high up-front costs available and/or have a high enough credit score to qualify for financing.
  • Groundswell is standing up an Equitable Community Solar project in West Baltimore on the campus of a religious institution.  This particular project is directed towards low and moderate income families with good bill paying history and removes the credit score and upfront cash required by other solar projects.  We are setting aside 50% of the array for working families – around 100 households, who are essentially paying upwards of 10% of their income on their monthly utility bill – paying more per square foot for energy inefficient homes.(in contrast, more affluent families pay around 3% of their income on their utility bill for larger and more energy efficient homes).  Our hope is that we will help families save money on their bill and help them via EE programs make their homes more energy efficient and comfortable – giving them a “raise” which the majority of working families haven’t seen in many years.
  • Groundswell needs help from partners like Green Neighbors to help up locate potential sites here in the District.
  • We need at least 10,000 square feet (100ft x 100ft) of rooftop space or 20,000 square feet of open land/parking lot (200ft x 100ft).
  • The host business/owner would need to be amenable to lease the property for at least 20 years for which they would receive rent payments and they would potentially be able to lessen their electricity bill or offload some of the energy for their use.
  • Good locations are charter schools, churches, hospitals, universities, parking lot owners.
  • There is NO cost to the property owner
  • Potential site hosts can contact Nadya Dutchin directly at 443-598-6773and another member of our Energy Team would reach out to them to discuss and determine next steps.
  • Lisa suggested looking into Soldier’s home and Catherine suggested large buildings like Home Depot for Groundswell community solar – Nadya to follow up with these locations and Annie’s Ace Hardware locations.

Announcements

Beyond Extreme energy (fracking and other extractive industries):   They demonstrate and picket FERC – there is a week of action this week and there is a day of action on Thursday May 18, @ Federal Regulatory Office at 1st St NE, Washington, DC (2 blocks North of Union Station) in the NOMA area @ 8am

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