So many in our community struggle with the exorbitant cost of living and an intimidating job market. Just recently, I had to relocate my family, and trying to find housing was a real struggle. But also the good news – in recent months, California’s unemployment rate was at 4.8 percent, down from 5.4 percent a year ago, which is a significant boost- some 82,000 people went back to work. Many in the Jewish community have seen opportunity in the innovative fields that call California home, especially the green energy sector. A major component of the success in the green energy field and the increase in job opportunities is based on the state’s energy program, since the Senate passed major clean energy legislation last year, (thank you to our local State Senator Ben Allen, and others ) with the goal of doubling statewide energy efficiency savings in electricity and natural gas use by 2030. Many of the green energy opportunities afforded by this recently passed bill are actually related to saving energy, rather than producing it. In fact, today, 70 percent of California’s green economy jobs are related to improving energy efficiency in homes and buildings.
As a faith leader in my community, I have recently been able to learn about one of the state’s more innovative educational programs – Energy Upgrade California. The value it brings is that it is designed for the average consumer – you don’t have to own a home, or business or have a degree in math; there are simple ways to save energy and save money. With so many in our community on fixed incomes and the elderly, here is a program that we can all get excited about. It’s simple; it involves checking your energy use and changing how you use energy at home, which means increased savings, and by doing so we are lowering our environmental impact. This will have major impacts at the state level, but it begins, like so many important ideas, on an individual basis, at home and at work. And hopefully, all this will mean more jobs to the market and decreases to the cost of living, all while improving the natural world we live in. Also, when we save money each month on our electric and gas bills, we have more money to spend in our local community.
Accounting for our behavior and improving how we live on a simple, day-by-day level are both basic human and Jewish values. Caring about the environment and conservation are also intimate concerns for our community, and that’s what I like so much about this Energy Upgrade California program. It’s an educational opportunity to improve our behaviors, reduce our global energy footprint, and it ends up saving money for individuals and families while providing more opportunity for the larger economy.