The Center for Social Inclusion has been pushing for an energy democracy, where citizen of all backgrounds and economic levels have a say in their local energy policy and access to green options.
They write, “Energy democracy means that community residents are innovators, planners, and decision-makers on how to use and create energy that is local and renewable. By making our energy solutions more democratic, we can make places environmentally healthier, reduce mounting energy costs so that families can take better care of their needs, and help stem the tide of climate change.”
They also point out some of the challenges facing the emerging energy democracy. From their site (their words, my emphasis):
Most ownership opportunities are reserved for homeowners:
- The federal production tax credit that finances renewable energy products only applies to homeowners – shutting out 25% of Whites and over 50% of people of color.
People of color lack access to financing to support green businesses:
- In the last five years, equity for Black-, Latino-, or Asian-owned businesses plummeted by more than 50%, weakening the ability to leverage assets for private capital, which is an essential task for entrepreneurs.
Data around renewable energy capacity is not reliable or always accessible:
Communities often lack accessible information and technical assistance regarding technologies, practices, and policies, which limit a community’s ability to participate in local energy planning.
One way to foster an energy democracy is by expanding community-owned power opportunities. Community power allows renters, students, business owners, and those with shaded properties to support– and benefit from– renewable energy.
Many communities have already taken the lead. Oakland, California (which has a large black and Latino population), for instance, has implemented many wise energy plans, including establishing renewable energy goals, using innovative financing to support programs, prioritizing inclusion and local participation, and building capacity.
To learn more, check out The Climate Gap.
What do you think about energy democracy? Share your thoughts below or shoot us an email. We’d love to hear your insights.