Solar with Justice: Connecting States and Communities
To ensure solar equity, under-resourced communities need to be able to participate actively in solar development.
PV costs have fallen dramatically, making it cost-effective in many locations. Solar energy provides health, environmental, job creation, and economic development benefits, while saving consumers money. And no one stands to benefit from reduced energy costs more than low- and moderate-income (LMI) consumers.
CESA’s Solar with Justice: Connecting States and Communities project identifies barriers to LMI solar and advances strategies for overcoming those barriers. It focuses especially on the roles of state energy agencies (SEAs) and frontline community-based organizations (CBOs) in under-resourced communities. CESA is helping those two groups learn from each other and forge partnerships to promote solar. More specifically, CESA seeks to (1) help SEAs engage, partner with, and develop programs for CBOs; and (2) facilitate exchange of ideas between frontline energy equity organizations and state policymakers so that the two groups better understand each other and are prepared for ongoing cooperation.
In December 2019, CESA published a major report, Solar with Justice: Strategies for Powering Up Under-Resourced Communities and Growing an Inclusive Solar Market. With funding from The Nathan Cummings Foundation, CESA worked with the Jackson State University Department of Urban and Regional Planning , the Partnership for Southern Equity, PaulosAnalysis, the University of Michigan School for Environment & Sustainability, and The Solutions Project to research the solar landscape in under-resourced communities and identify the most useful strategies for advancing solar technologies in ways that benefit those communities. The report includes detailed recommendations for various key stakeholder groups, including state governments, community organizations, philanthropic foundations, the solar industry, and municipalities.
Effective Knowledge Dissemination for LMI Solar: The Roles of CBOs and State Governments
On November 12, 2020, the US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office announced that CESA was selected to receive an award for a major research and outreach project on Effective Knowledge Dissemination for LMI Solar: The Roles of CBOs and State Governments. CESA and the Solar Energy Technologies Office are currently negotiating details of the project workplan. The project is anticipated to start in Spring 2021. The Nathan Cummings Foundation is also providing funding for the project.
This project will work with SEAs and CBOs in under-resourced communities so that they are better able to share the knowledge and information that is needed for solar to be developed efficiently, equitably, and cost-effectively in LMI communities. It will create opportunities for SEAs to better understand the perspectives of CBO leaders in LMI communities, to identify and address solar information gaps, and to involve CBOs in solar initiatives. The project team will investigate ways to enable CBOs to access sufficient solar knowledge to play an effective partnership, educational, or project development role in their communities.
The project team will conduct a series of research studies, as well as host convenings among state program managers and CBO leaders.
The project will be carried out by a team with deep experience and solid relevant knowledge. In addition to CESA staff, team members include:
- MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (Janelle Knox-Hayes and PhD candidates)
- University of Michigan School for Environment & Sustainability (Tony Reames and grad students)
- Energy Trust of Oregon (Betsy Kauffman, Lizzie Rubado, Matt Getchell)
- Partnership for Southern Equity (Chandra Farley)
- Vote Solar (Melanie Santiago-Mosier and Lavannya Pulluveetil-Barrera)
- Kim Wolske of the University of Chicago
There are no upcoming Solar with Justice webinars or events.