EBCE Feels the Power of Community Voices

(10/2022) At the East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) Executive Committee meeting on Friday, October 28 at 12 Noon, agency staff will present a proposal entitled Health-E Communities Partnership. This $15 million dollar proposal is very different than an earlier proposal in May that would have given that amount to UCSF Benioff Chldren's Hospital. The current proposal clearly shows the impact of community pushback and aligns much more with the mission of the public energy agency. Thanks to all who have advocated for change, your input has made a difference!

Back In May, CEO Nick Chaset, proposed an EBCE gift of $15 Million dollars to UCSF Benioff Children’s hospital to establish an endowed professorship and asthma research and treatment program. There was significant community push back against that proposal. Most comments argued that the public energy agency should instead use its unique position to utilize that $15 million to directly reduce the impact of fossil fuels on asthma sufferers. For example, EBCE could replace gas appliances for frontline community asthma sufferers by providing them with electric appliances to be powered by local clean energy generation resources.

The new proposal entitled Health-E Communities Partnership would use $15 million in surplus revenues to do electrification retrofits in low income homes of asthma sufferers, as part of a partnership program with public health entities, electrification developers, finance partners and others.

Community organizations opposed to the previously proposed gift to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital found legal support in California’s constitution which considers gifts of public funds prohibited if the mission of the giver (EBCE) is different from the mission of the receiver (UCSF). AB 117, the law enabling Community Choice Energy programs, requires these agencies to use revenues acquired for the purposes the agency was created to carry out. Clearly the mission of a health care institution varies significantly from the mission of an energy agency.

There were also transparency issues involved in the original proposal that prompted a Public Records Request by a EBCE customer. The results of that request are still being examined for the possibility of taking some action in order to increase transparency and community trust in EBCE.