SACE Staffer Makes Powerful Statement on Energy Justice at NAACP’s 17th Annual Legislative Day on the Hill

Tennessee State Conference NAACP's Save the Date for the 17th Annual Legislative Day on the Hill

Jason Carney, SACE’s Clean Energy Program Manager, presented a statement on February 13, 2018 at the Tennessee State Conference NAACP’s 17th Annual Legislative Day on the Hill. This event provided an opportunity to meet with legislators regarding issues of concern and open discussion of NAACP’s policy and priorities.

This is Jason’s statement:

“Good Morning Board Members,

My name is Jason Carney.

I am the Clean Energy Program Manager for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, but, more importantly, I am a Christian, a husband, a father, a community advocate, an energy enthusiast and obviously a person of color. My faith is the reason I stand before you right now. I have read many books on the factors that contributed and continue to contribute to the plight of my community. In my attempt to live by faith, I am currently building a program in my community that introduces high school students to the green economy through solar energy. I believe that it is ridiculous to be enslaved by incessant energy bills when God provides this energy so freely every second of the day. Did you know that the energy we receive from the Sun in one hour is enough to power the entire planet for one year? So, the obvious question is, why are we struggling every day to pay these extremely high electric bills? I think the answer is clear if you look at the flyer in front of you.

In 1893 Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla introduced the technology of transmitting electricity. Forty years later, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used that new technology to start the Tennessee Valley Authority as a way to preserve the environment and employ thousands of poor rural residents of the Valley. Today, TVA is serving the interests of big business on the backs of poor people. They have shifted $1.4B out of the pockets of residents into the pockets of big business. By law, TVA is required to protect its residential customers from unnecessarily high rates. The TVA was intended to help alleviate poverty; not to help maintain it. The leadership appears more concerned with the 1% than the 99%.

The current leadership is taking TVA in the wrong direction and needs to give way to someone else with better ideas for how to address energy, economics and environment in the Tennessee Valley. Moreover, we need the NAACP to help in this battle. Nancy L. Grant in her book, TVA and Black Americans, says that TVA has a long history of marginalizing and disenfranchising communities of color. She says the progress that has been made came from the pressure applied by the NAACP. The NAACP has the power to push power back into the hands of the people. Let us demand transparency in our bills. Let us demand an end to unnecessary and regressive mandatory fixed fees that disproportionately hurt our communities and let us demand better policy toward clean, renewable energy like solar power!

As the only African American in the state of Tennessee, certified to design solar systems, I need your help to open up business for solar power in the Tennessee Valley. The students I teach need your help if they are to have a career in solar in Tennessee. The community I live in needs your help with excessively, high electric bills. We can do this if we work together; demanding TVA adopt Just Energy Policy and Practices from the NAACP.

I want to thank you again for allowing me to address you on this morning, Madame President and members at large.

Thank You.”

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