A Commitment to Equity
SOMAH is dedicated to equity through a community-based approach that amplifies the voices of and is responsive to the communities it serves. Through public forums, direct community outreach and education partnerships, and the oversight of an Advisory Council and Job Training Organization Task Force, the SOMAH Program develops partnerships that further develop SOMAH’s inclusiveness and capacity to engage.
Our partnerships throughout California help us deliver renewable energy and financial benefits to multifamily affordable housing tenants.
Created by the California Legislature, SOMAH’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy and Environmental Justice are in SOMAH's DNA
Created largely by the advocacy efforts of environmental justice groups and funded by greenhouse gas auction revenues through California's Cap-and-Trade Program, SOMAH's work to expand clean energy access to low-income and environmental justice communities in particular has clear restorative and environmental justice implications.
The program serves environmental justice communities or Disadvantaged Communities (DACs) — the 25% most pollution-burdened census tracts in CalEPA’s California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool (CalEnviroScreen). Primarily Latino and African American, these communities face the highest disparities with respect to air pollution and health vulnerabilities, according to the agency’s report “Analysis of Race/Ethnicity, Age, and CalEnviroScreen 3.0 Scores.” And with the May 2022 publication of the California Environmental Protection Agency’s (CalEPA’s) “Final Designation of Disadvantaged Communities Pursuant to Senate Bill 535,” federally-recognized tribal lands in California are also included within the designation, acknowledging these territories as important domains of environmental justice despite data gaps that previously impeded their inclusion. The SOMAH Program helps reduce barriers for these communities to access the benefits of solar for residents living in multifamily affordable housing, through energy bill credits and job training opportunities.
Partnerships with Community-Based Organizations (CBOs)
SOMAH was designed from the start to leverage robust partnerships with leading community-based organizations championing environmental and economic justice throughout California.
CBOs are embedded in the very communities SOMAH seeks to serve and have the best understanding of what challenges their communities face. These partnerships help inform program and policy changes and ensure culturally-competent marketing, education and outreach, aimed at maximizing community benefits.
Equity in Solar Workforce Development
California's solar industry has been an important jobs engine for more than a decade, with over 68,000 solar workers employed in California as of the 2020 Solar Jobs Census.
But there's more to do to ensure a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce with career growth opportunities for people of color, women and those overcoming barriers to employment. Job training is required for every SOMAH project in the form of paid solar training opportunities and potentially permanent jobs that ensure lasting economic impacts in communities throughout California. To ensure equity, the SOMAH Program prioritizes job trainees from a project’s local area and those experiencing barriers to employment. SOMAH job trainees are also paid wages comparable to industry standards while gaining hands-on work experience, knowledge and resources to further support their professional development.
Find out how you can explore a career in the solar industry!