DeKalb County is launching a Green New Deal initiative during Earth Week

From the Georgia Sun

The “DeKalb Green New Deal” kickoff event is set to take place on April 17 as part of Earth Week celebrations in DeKalb County.

Hosted by Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry, the initiative aims to engage the community in local climate action and advocate for greener public policy.

The Maloof Auditorium in Decatur will house the event from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Terry emphasized the need for transformative investments to address ongoing health, economic, racial justice, and climate crises.

“The time is now to advocate, innovate and execute transformative investments that address the interconnected and ongoing health, economic, racial justice and climate crises we are facing today,” said Commissioner Terry. “The DeKalb Green New Deal initiatives that I seek to initiate will focus on strategies that DeKalb County can implement to help meet President Biden’s ambitious climate and environmental justice goals and build an equitable, pollution-free future.”

Following the launch, Earth Week will feature town halls, webinars, and educational opportunities for county residents. The Zoom Webinar Series includes discussions on a Just and Equitable Green New Deal (April 18), Clean and Efficient Energy (April 19), and Conservation and Access to Nature (April 20), all taking place from 7 to 8 p.m.

Those interested in attending the kickoff event can register at For webinar registration, visit the respective links provided in the press release. For more information, contact Miranda Rupkey, DeKalb County Super District 6 Project Administrator, at 404-371-6353 or

Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry, elected in 2020, represents about 350,000 residents from South, Central, and North DeKalb. His platform focuses on affordable housing, transit equity, the DeKalb Green New Deal, DeKalb voting rights, and criminal justice reform. For more information about Commissioner Terry and his platforms, visit

Decatur mayor, local leaders tout clean energy investments in the state

Originally published in Decaturish

Decatur, GA — Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett and local leaders, including DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry, celebrated the federal investments being made in Georgia related to clean energy during a press conference on April 11 at the Decatur Recreation Center.

Georgia has been allotted about $83 million in federal funding through the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Local cities and counties like Decatur and DeKalb County haven’t received federal funds yet, but can apply for grants through various agencies like the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the state Environmental Protection Division and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to a press release, these investments will improve energy efficiency, accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, and lower energy costs for Georgia families with the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).

“I am thrilled to celebrate these historic federal clean energy investments that will advance our plans to cut pollution, lower our operational costs, and lower energy costs for our communities,” Garrett said in the press release. “Decatur has ambitious sustainability goals to meet in the coming years, including a total transition to clean energy for our municipal and community buildings, and weatherization efforts that reduce energy usage are key to meeting our targets and making our communities more resilient to a changing climate.”

Decatur is developing a comprehensive strategy to utilize federal funds, mobilize the community, and implement clean energy measures. The city of Decatur recently adopted its clean energy plan, which sets goals for the city to transition away from fossil fuels and toward a resilient, renewable future.

“This document, Decatur’s Clean Energy Plan, is intended to guide Decatur’s energy transition and address the city’s contributions to the climate crisis while also improving living conditions and addressing equity issues,” the executive summary of the plan states. “This plan describes a path to a Clean Energy Future while facing an aggressive goal and conditions outside of Decatur’s control.”

When the city was working on the 2030 Strategic Plan, climate action became a top priority.

“Acting on a key recommendation of the city’s clean energy plan, the city is working to create a community energy fund to complement the available federal funding to support low and moderate income households and their ability to take advantage of these programs,” Garrett said during the press conference.

Every year during the city’s Martin Luther King Service project, volunteers do minor repairs on homes of seniors and part of that includes weatherization.

“We want to expand that program and also work with our land trust to be able to make sure we’re meeting the needs in the community that don’t have access to the funding for putting in insulation or replacing systems and those kinds of things. We’re using the time now as grants are being released [to see] what are we a city eligible for,” Garrett said.

During the press conference, speakers highlighted how federal funding will address the needs of communities with access to fewer resources.

“Today, we’re shining a light on a critical component of Georgia’s plans to significantly reduce our energy consumption, and create a lifeline for many through efficient, effective home weatherization,” Terry said in the press release. “The expansion of programs like WAP, which help low-income families reduce their energy bills, will have a profound impact on those communities that are on the front lines of a housing crisis and facing increasing costs to cool and heat their homes.”

Weatherization is a key aspect of the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Terry said during the press conference.

“It’s the process of making homes and buildings more energy efficient, which in turn reduces the amount of energy required to heat and cool them,” Terry said. “It’s achieved through a combination of very basic things, including sealing air leaks, insulating walls and attics, and upgrading the heating and cooling systems. The benefits of weatherization are numerous. For one, it saves homeowners money on their energy bills.”

He added that weatherization reduces one’s carbon footprint and creates jobs as it requires skilled professionals to carry out the work.

“Finally, it’s not just about saving money or reducing our impact on the environment, it’s also a matter of social justice,” Terry said.

Local funding through DeKalb County and the American Rescue Plan Act has gone toward weatherizing homes in Clarkston and South DeKalb. The Empower Clarkston program, which is run through the Tekton Training Center, has been expanded with help from the county’s APRA funding.

“The program is aimed at training refugees from the immigrant community as well, and communities that have been impacted by COVID-19,” said Malek Alarmash, program manager at Tekton Training Center. “The training program focuses on trade skills and includes specialized trainings such as the Empower Clarkston program.”

The 14-week program is centered around green construction and efficiency training, which includes identifying and addressing energy needs and plumbing issues. In 2021, the Empower Clarkston program trained 15 people and assisted 15 homeowners.

“The program’s impact was demonstrated through data which showed a significant reduction in power bills and amounting in approximately $700 in energy savings per year. This represents a significant cost savings of more than 33%,” Alarmash said.

Tekton will be working on 20 homes in DeKalb and has been recruiting trainees and homeowners to participate in the Empower Clarkston program.

The Rev. William Flippin Jr., added that weatherization is a critical tool in fighting climate change, and it improves the wellbeing of communities by reducing greenhouse pollutants.

“Legislation that expands and makes these energy efficiency efforts accessible to all is the inclusive and expansive approach that we need to meet the climate change challenge,” Flippin said.

In addition to highlighting the tangible benefits realized in these laws, speakers also urged federal leaders to further expand on them to reduce carbon pollution.

Environmental impact of police training facility questioned by DeKalb commissioner

Originally published in The Champion

A stakeholder committee has helped shape the proposed police training facility on City of Atlanta-owned property in southwest DeKalb, but DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry said he wants more research and information on the property’s history and the environmental implications of the proposed development.

Terry recently presented proposed legislation to the DeKalb Board of Commissioners requesting an environmental impact study of the proposed development. The resolution was referred to the Planning, Economic Development, and Community Services committee, which tabled the resolution for 30 days at its July 26 meeting.

Terry said his proposed legislation would examine environmental implications to Intrenchment Creek and South River, noise issues, and other issues that have been discussed by protestors and local environmental activists.

Studies such as a phase two environmental analysis could reveal if there are environmental problems that could slow the development or cost taxpayers and investors more money, according to Terry.

The resolution states that the phase two study “would provide a more diligent review of potential environmental hazards that might yet be unknown, such as possible site contaminants, buried debris, and significant data gaps.”

“If you look at the areas where the prison farm was abandoned, to me it’s clear that there are more underlying environmental issues that deserve a deeper review,” said Terry. “I’d also like a little more effort to acknowledge the long history of the area.”

Terry said it’s important to do the research now because the development is already expected to cost $90 million. He added that the project is one government jurisdiction working in another government jurisdiction, so the development hasn’t been subject to the same regulations as a private development. A private development, according to Terry, would have more impact studies done and a more thorough community input process.

“The goal all along from my point of view was to replicate that citizen and stakeholder process,” said Terry.

The environmental implications related to Intrenchment Creek or South River and its watersheds could be more important than additional costs, according to Terry. Protestors have also mentioned the implications of cutting one of the largest urban forests left in the country.

“On one side, what’s concerning is if there will be additional costs associated with this … but are we making sure that if the site gets developed, that there aren’t any long-term environmental consequences of this land disturbance, understanding that there are decades and decades of history of letting that site degrade,” said Terry.

DeKalb officials said if approved, their study would investigate “a community member’s independent environmental assessment … which highlighted several areas within the entire Prison Farm site that are environmentally sensitive areas and contain vital habitat ecosystems that deserve to be considered in the overall assessment and conservation areas in the [Atlanta public safety training center] development plan.”

“We should be focusing on any development along South River or Intrenchment Creek,” said Terry. “Everything that we do there could put [the waterways] more at risk.”

The resolution adds that in the 2019 master planning process, the City of Atlanta amended its city charter to create a “South River Forest Park”, designated in an area that includes the land proposed for the development of the Atlanta public safety training center.

Terry calls for studies on the area’s history

In the original resolution, Terry also called for “the idea of housing reparations,” for neighborhoods that have fallen victim to redlining or other actions that Terry said have impacted neighborhoods around the Old Atlanta Prison Farm.

Terry said the way the property has been used and cared for over the last several decades, including with what Terry called “redlining,” and potentially discriminatory separations of groups of people, should also require research and a “history and reconciliation and reparations committee.”

According to Terry, adding gun ranges and other loud activities to the site could further damage property values if the noise isn’t contained properly.

Terry said that since the Old Atlanta Prison Farm was abandoned from its original uses, the property has been ignored by local governments and police training on the property has gone somewhat unchecked.

“If the history and recognition reveal that there were actions taken by Atlanta’s government or DeKalb’s government that made these situations worse or turned the Starlight neighborhood into a place where land values were artificially depressed through de jure segregation, then there needs to be some accounting of that,” added Terry.

Depending on what is uncovered in the research, Terry said that there is a future where the public training facility moves locations.

“[A different site] is one future scenario. What if we get six months or a year down the land disturbance process, and it’s determined that the original site plan can’t be implemented due to issues that were discovered after the fact? Or that it’s going to cost more than expected? It’s always good—especially when taxpayer money is involved—that we do everything we can do to ensure the best quality project. Not just for the immediate future but for the long-term health of this ecosystem,” said Terry.

Super District Commissioners, Roots Down Celebrate Earth Day

DECATUR, Ga.—On Earth Day, Friday, April 22, DeKalb County Super District Commissioners Ted Terry and Lorraine Cochran-Johnson will join Roots Down for a special, commemorative celebration to encourage a greener, more environmentally friendly DeKalb. Roots Down works with local governments, universities, and organizers to shift the paradigm of landscapes, create greener jobs, fight climate change and feed others.

Starting at 10 a.m. at the Toco Hills Library, the commissioners and Roots Down will announce several green initiatives each has enacted and advocated for to further DeKalb’s status as an eco-friendly county. 

Commissioner Terry plans to discuss details about: 

  • County plastics ordinance to phase out single-use plastics in Government buildings
  • Funds to plant more trees across DeKalb
  • Introduction of new electric vehicles and solar technology 
  • Event will close with a ceremonial tree planting that is dedicated to growing a “Greener DeKalb”  

“We get One Earth, One County,” said Commissioner Terry. “It is our job to do work, both big and small, to protect and conserve our greenspaces, invest in opportunities to combat climate change, and introduce and adopt a policy to positively impact our environment both in DeKalb and the world at large.” 

Commissioner Cochran-Johnson will provide updates on the development E.M.B.A.R.C. Community Youth Farm. Plans for E.M.B.A.R.C., or the Education, Market, Botanicals, Agriculture, and Recreational Center were announced in April 2021, when the Commissioner unveiled a comprehensive plan to develop the $1.4 million facility.

“It is my intent (with EMBARC Youth Farm) to create a safe space for children that promotes healthy living, urban farming, education, leadership, and entrepreneurship,” Commissioner Cochran-Johnson said

Commissioner Cochran-Johnson will also discuss the comprehensive trails master plan, which will further enhance DeKalb’s greenspaces by connecting existing trails and allowing for additional land acquisition to preserve greenspaces. 

Roots Down will announce the introduction of the Fruitful Libraries Resolution, which aims to provide a pathway for the county to expand ecological landscaping throughout the entire library system. Launched in DeKalb in 2021, the Fruitful Communities initiative is a comprehensive roadmap to converting traditional landscapes into Productive Urban Landscapes, pollinator gardens and food forests that provide food, jobs and outdoor classrooms to communities throughout the County. There are currently 8 pilot landscapes sprinkled throughout DeKalb.

“DeKalb County libraries have been the perfect partner for the Fruitful Communities initiative,” said Jamie Rosenthal, founder of Roots Down. “After all, the library system’s motto is ‘a place to grow.’ The library gardens are a great way to make that motto real.”

The event will be streamed online, here: 

Below, find details about the Earth Day celebration:


Friday, April 22 

10 a.m. – 11 a.m.: Press Event + Planting at the Library 

11 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Roots Down’s Spring Planting Spectacular at the Central DeKalb Senior Center 


Toco Hills Library

1282 McConnell Dr

Decatur, GA 30033

Advocates call for faster climate action as Georgia Power hearings begin

Originally published by WABE

This coverage is made possible through a partnership with WABE and Grist, a nonprofit, independent media organization dedicated to telling stories of climate solutions and a just future.

As long as it works, a lot of people don’t think much about electricity beyond paying the bill. Plug something in, flip a switch, it turns on. But how that power is generated can have big consequences — for people’s power bills and for the planet. 

There are lots of ways to make electricity: burning coal, gas, oil or wood; harnessing the power of the sun, the wind or running water; or using nuclear reactions. 

Georgia Power, the state’s largest utility, uses all of them. And beginning next week, state regulators will hold a series of hearings to decide which of those sources to increase and which to phase out, laying out where most Georgians will get their electricity for the next 20 years. 

“We have a diversified generation system in Georgia that gives us reliable, affordable and clean energy down the road,” said Bubba McDonald, one of the five Public Service Commissioners that will have the final say over Georgia Power’s Integrated Resource Plan, or IRP.

The utility plans for the future

The biggest changes Georgia Power wants to make are shutting down coal and adding solar. By 2030, the company plans to get nearly a third of its electricity from the sun, up from just 11% this year. 

“We are showing how we are growing the level of renewable energy in our state and responding to the fast-changing needs of our customers while also protecting the environment and the communities we serve,” said Georgia Power President and CEO Chris Womack.

Renewable energy — like solar and wind — is key, because burning coal, gas or oil creates the greenhouse gasses that cause climate change. Scientists say people everywhere have to quickly and sharply cut down on those energy sources to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Despite the new solar, Bryan Jacob of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy [SACE] said this plan isn’t good enough.

“The bad news is that Georgia Power has proposed as much fossil gas resource in this IRP as they did renewables,” he said.

While the proportion of renewables is going up, the company still plans to get a lot of its power from gas in 2030 — just as it does now. Jacob’s group is one of several hoping to change that.

Georgia Power’s plan is essentially a first draft. Before the Public Service Commission approves it, they’ll hear from environmental and clean energy organizations, consumer groups, companies that use a lot of energy and even a gas company.

Advocates push for changes

Along with calling for more energy from renewable sources, groups intervening in the IRP process plan to push for more energy efficiency programs and to raise other questions, not just about environmental concerns, but also about the costs to Georgia Power customers.

“While energy efficiency continues to be a least-cost resource, the utility is failing to pursue energy saving opportunities at levels that would bring the greatest value to customers,” said Forest Bradley-Wright of SACE.

The idea is that it’s cheaper to save energy than it is to make it. Georgia Power customers can lower their power bills by making changes that help them use less electricity: better insulation, more efficient heating and cooling systems, smart thermostats.

The utility’s proposal does call energy efficiency “a priority resource” and seeks to extend current energy efficiency pilot programs, but advocates said the company should do more.

“Georgia Power continues to lag national and regional peers in annual efficiency savings, which average two to three times higher than Georgia Power’s delivery,” Bradley-Wright said.

The power company’s plan also calls for more energy storage, which is vital for using more renewables. Solar farms, for instance, only generate electricity when the sun is shining, so it’s important to store the extra energy for use when it’s dark or cloudy.

According to the proposal, Georgia Power aims to own and operate 1,000 megawatts of storage capacity by 2030.

“Georgia Power wants to do it all themselves. So the question is, if you do need all of this storage, how much is that going to cost? And would the cost for doing that be cheaper if you allow third party non-incumbents to develop that?” said Katie Southworth of Southface Institute, a sustainability organization that’s intervening in the IRP.

Southworth also raised questions beyond climate concerns about Georgia Power’s plans to keep relying heavily on gas. She pointed to volatile natural gas prices on the global market — a concern in the headlines lately due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and to problems with gas-powered electricity in Texas following a devastating winter storm.

“Continuing to beat the drum that [gas] is reliable and affordable, will always show up, you know, we’re seeing in real time that in the last few years, that has not been the case,” Southworth said.

Local governments get involved

For the first time this year, cities and counties that have made their own clean energy commitments are getting involved in the IRP process, too. Atlanta, Savannah, Athens, Decatur and DeKalb, and Fulton Counties are all intervening together. 

“There’s only so much that the government, the local governments can do,” said DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry. He said local governments like his have the power to make some changes, like adding “our own electric vehicles, solar installations on government property, on fire stations, on libraries, on wastewater treatment plant lands.”

But Georgia Power is the only electricity provider in most of the state. If cities and counties can’t buy enough renewable energy from the utility, they can’t reach their goals.

Terry is optimistic about the process, because Georgia Power’s parent company, Southern Company, has announced the same clean energy goal as DeKalb County: net zero emissions by 2050.

“We all agree on the goal. Now we now need to get to the plan,” Terry said.

The PSC has a lot of power to shape that plan, which is updated every three years. Much of Georgia Power’s explosive increase in solar in recent years happened because the commission called for it. 

Several rounds of hearings are scheduled on Georgia Power’s Integrated Resource Plan over the next few months. The PSC will make its final decision at the end of July.

Commissioner Ted Terry launches Fruitful Communities campaign

Originally published in Decaturish

DeKalb County, GA –– On Monday, April 12, Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry announced the launch of a new initiative aimed at transforming public spaces into regenerative, productive urban landscapes, a press release said.

The project, called Fruitful Communities, will address food insecurity, food deserts and developing policies that combat climate change at the local level. Commissioner Terry first piloted this program in Clarkston, where he previously served as Mayor, with a community-designed micro-food forest and meadow system and a first-of-its-kind urban grower training program for public works staff.

“Conventional landscaping has destroyed so many of our edible native plant species,” Terry said. “Often, the focus is on mowing, blowing, and spraying pesticides and herbicides on our public and private spaces. The bioaccumulation of these chemicals in our local environment impacts the overall health of our communities. The Fruitful Communities Initiative is an opportunity for us to move away from this inefficient and wasteful system.

“I envision a future DeKalb with communities full of urban growers tending and harvesting tens of thousands of pounds of fresh produce each year and putting much of it back into our local food system. We can reduce our carbon footprint and create localized, higher-paying green jobs.”

Fruitful Communities will kicked off with a Community Forum on April 14.

“Our philosophy at Roots Down has three main components: food, ecology, and community,” said Roots Down founder Jamie Rosenthal. “Most landscapes don’t prioritize any of these things, which is why they are underutilized and unproductive despite the millions of dollars DeKalb County spends every year to mow grass and spray synthetic chemicals. Fruitful Communities is a framework for government officials and residents to reimagine public and private spaces and get a return on their investment.”

Partners for Fruitful Communities include Compost Now, Servescape, The Audubon Society, Multiply Monarch, and Be Compostable. Goals for the Fruitful Communities initiative include installing Productive Urban Landscapes, green education for young people, and policy recommendations to help urban agriculture and edible landscaping thrive.

For updates regarding the Fruitful Communities initiative, visit