Young People Need Community Choice Energy Now

Boston’s Next Step in the Fight Against Climate Change

The City of Boston has always been a leader.  It is a hub of innovation, progressive politics and academia -- and, it is in real danger.  

The UN's recent report on climate paints a dire picture of the future.  Climate change is not a distant, far-off issue; it is here now, and we are already facing the consequences.  Major flooding, dangerously high temperatures, and extreme weather are already happening and impacting our health and lives. We, the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) and Youth on Board, refuse to stay on the sidelines while this occurs. BSAC is working on several climate justice campaigns to ensure that we have a healthy planet in our future.  One of our campaigns is Community Choice Energy (CCE). While we are thrilled Boston is moving forward with CCE, we are advising the City to implement it efficiently and with urgency. We don’t have time to waste. 

BSAC is Boston Public School’s program that is run in partnership with Youth on Board and brings together a diverse group of students who come from all over the Boston Public High Schools  As members of BSAC, we advocate for change, in our schools and our communities, around the issues that affect us. One of those issues is climate change.

Climate Change is a serious problem for us, especially as young people in Boston. By the 2030s, when many of us celebrate our 30th birthdays, Boston’s sea level is expected to rise by approximately one foot, causing massive flooding and displacement.  Neighborhoods like Roxbury, which have more asphalt and fewer trees for shade, will develop urban “heat islands,” or areas that experience dangerously elevated temperatures.  By the latter portion of the century, 88,000 people in Boston alone -- 15% of the city’s population -- will be in danger of flooding from the coast or nearby rivers.

It is tempting to look to distant, far away leaders to solve our problems.  We have to face the fact that we need to take matters into our own hands, and that starts right here in Boston. We cannot afford to ignore this problem.

 

Fortunately, there is something we can do - Community Choice Energy.  It will not alleviate all our climate problems, but it can move our city forward.  CCE is not a complicated idea: right now individuals buy electricity directly from Eversource; under CCE the City would coordinate the bulk purchase of energy, including renewables.  This would make it easier for more people to use more renewable energy with less effort.

Energy is already expensive, and many people cannot afford higher bills.  We believe in transitioning to renewable energy without putting an extra burden on those who cannot afford to pay more. No one can predict future electrical prices with certainty, with or without CCE, but we can look at the facts: 140 municipalities in Massachusetts have implemented similar programs, including Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline and a joint program for Cape Cod towns.  And in each case, the result has been little to no extra cost to the consumer.

Another concern some people raise is the logistical challenge of CCE.  But here is our question: isn’t it more of a challenge for individuals to install their own solar panels or renegotiate energy on their own?  

Liz Stanton, Director and Principal Economist at Applied Economics Clinic, testified at a city council hearing in May 2018 that Boston’s large large size would actually put it at an advantage when negotiating energy the price of electricity under CCE.

 

Now is the time to implement CCE in Boston. We are grateful that Mayor Walsh has taken a big step towards this goal by issuing the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) that will lead to the hiring of a consultant who will coordinate the implementation of CCE.  We have been doing our part to assist the City by educating our fellow students and others in the community about the benefits of CCE.

 

Mayor Walsh, we remain committed to providing our support as you take these steps so that Boston continues to be a leader in climate resilience and justice and take the next step in implementing  CCE. We are glad to be in this fight together and know that we have no choice but to keep moving forward with urgency.

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© 2017 by YOUTH ON BOARD