HARLEM, NY– WE ACT for Environmental Justice has been awarded a grant of $660,000, over three years, to implement the Northern Manhattan Climate Action Plan, a plan developed over a seven-month period in 2015 with participation from more than 200 public- and private-sector stakeholders, including academic partners, government and elected officials, independent researchers, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and northern Manhattan residents.
The plan, the development of which was also funded by The Kresge Foundation, seeks to make the neighborhoods of East, Central, and West Harlem and Washington Heights and Inwood more resilient to the negative effects of climate change. To achieve this, the plan will create four community-driven working groups that correspond with the priorities identified by residents who participated in the planning phase. These are–in order of community priority–energy security, emergency preparedness, community place-making, and civic participation.
In receiving this grant, WE ACT joins with 11 other nonprofit organizations nationwide working to influence how local and regional policy addresses the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities and advance solutions that better reflect the needs of underrepresented people in U.S. cities. Examples of expected outcomes include stronger energy efficiency policies, disaster-preparedness plans and carbon-reduction strategies as well as more robust social cohesion that can bond communities together during crises.
“We are thrilled to receive this grant from The Kresge Foundation to fund implementation of the community’s climate plan of action,” said Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT. “This support is indispensable to leading a robust process that helps community residents achieve their identified goals. The planning support we received from The Kresge Foundation alone has already helped us to influence City policy around community resilience and elevate a strong model of community engagement.”
To promote energy security for low-income households, the plan’s highest priority, WE ACT seeks to reform City policy in order to achieve a resilient and sustainable energy infrastructure by removing financial, administrative, and legal barriers to entry for microgrid development and participation. Briefly, these policy objectives are:
to lower cost barriers to entry for large energy consumers so they can more easily become microgrid aggregators,
to secure mandates for microgrid participation within revisions to the City’s land use policy, and
to streamline the City’s permitting process so that prospective microgrid aggregators need only submit one application.
Making these changes to New York City policy would facilitate the development of microgrids not only in northern Manhattan but also throughout New York City.