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Energy Democracy – Supporting Community Innovation

Posted by Content Coordinator on Wednesday, February 29th, 2012



We all want to live in healthy places.  That is becoming harder thanks to the combination of dirty, expensive energy, and violent weather, droughts, and other problems of global climate change that we helped to create.  We know that reducing energy consumption and replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy are essential steps to healthy and sustainable places to live.

New technologies like wind, solar, and geothermal generation are promising.  They are not only cleaner and will not run out; they can also fuel new economic growth.  But we will not avert the crisis and build a bright future unless we can make sure that local communities can innovate how to develop and share renewable energy solutions.  From farmers in America’s heartland, West, and South, to fast-growing city neighborhoods and suburban villages, we need to make sure everyone can participate in clean energy.

People of color can be innovators in a green economy.  There can be no effective national solutions that exclude them because a majority of the US population will soon be Latino, Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American.  It will take all of us to improve our climate and support our economy.  So it is critically important that policies, capacity-building, and engagement around green energy solutions support diverse communities.

Much of our current energy policy focuses on rewarding individuals for lower carbon lifestyles—conserving energy or switching to alternatives like solar roof panels.  Far too small a percentage of Americans can take advantage of these policies.  To be effective, energy policies must include all of us, especially our fastest growing populations, which are communities of color.

Energy democracy means tackling climate and energy issues at the community level in ways that meet community needs and create multiple benefits for people, places, and the nation.

People are trying to find solutions every day.  And some states and cities are starting to help them.  Some energy policies support replacing Big Oil with Big Solar or Big Wind.  This is useful too, and we will create more energy independence through a green energy revolution that allows consumers to become producers, owners, and decision-makers around our energy future—true energy democracy. 

Energy democracy is possible, but requires that our nation’s political and corporate leaders change how they think about energy policy.  This white paper highlights some of these barriers with an emphasis on ways that communities of color can participate fully in creating a sustainable clean energy economy.  It identifies barriers that stand in the way and proposes policy solutions.

Read full report (PDF) here: Energy Democracy

About The Center for Social Inclusion
The Center for Social Inclusion identifies causes of racial inequity growing out of  public policy. Racial injustice is not only about individual attitudes. Our collective decisions shape where we invest our resources, develop relationships and build opportunities. Too often these decisions open a racial divide that undermines opportunity in communities of color. In the end, this injustice becomes a drag on the nation’s prosperity, and a critical barrier to our long-term health as a society. CSI develops ideas, supports grass roots leaders and moves public will to promote structural transformation through public policy, sowing seeds of racial, gender and class equity for all.

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