Can you go door-to-door to build the clean energy revolution? That’s what Food & Water Watch organizers and volunteers in New Jersey have been doing for the past few months, building a movement to get the city of New Brunswick to create its own 100% clean energy program.
And we just might days away from winning a very big victory.
On July 2, we dropped off petitions signed by over 650 city residents in support of a new community energy aggregation program, which would allow residents and businesses the opportunity to purchase renewable energy. The program would reach the 100 percent renewable threshold by the year 2035. We are setting that goal because there is an urgent need to get off dirty energy as quickly as possible.
The text of the ordinance cites the threat posed by climate change, as well as pollution generated by fossil fuel energy projects, as our reasons for taking action. This New Brunswick Community Energy Aggregation (NBCEA) program would enable the city to purchase energy at discounted bulk rates, and to set guidelines about the sources of electricity used by city residents. Cities can do this thanks to the Government Energy Aggregation Act, a state law enabling municipalities to set up their own bulk purchasing arrangements. Legal assistance from the New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center was essential for making this campaign work.
On July 23, we crossed one big hurdle when we got word from the city that our petition signatures were valid. The city also posted an announcement on its website saying that it “intends to move forward with the planned ordinance to implement more renewable energy sources to help keep New Brunswick green, clean and sustainable.” The statement adds that the city “looks forward to working with the community and NJ Food & Water Watch on this new initiative.”
So what comes next? The City Council will read the ordinance at its next meeting, then at a subsequent meeting in August it could vote to pass the ordinance outright. If the Council fails to create a bold plan to get off fossil fuels, then the decision will be turned over to city voters in November. Either way, this will be a huge step in the right direction, and a testament to the power of our clean energy movement.