In December 2019, REV was delighted to co-host with VECAN (the Vermont Energy & Climate Action Network) the fourth session of our fall conference series. Low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color are less likely to have access to the benefits of clean energy and much more likely to experience negative consequences from exposure to climate pollution and the impacts of climate change. Panelists posed tough questions about how energy decisions are made, why they so often result in unequal outcomes and what we can do to create more equitable energy systems.
The plenary conversation featured speakers Coreina Chan of the Rocky Mountain Institute, Stephan Roundtree of Vote Solar and Eleanor Stein of Albany Law School. Their conversation centered on approaches and practical steps for improving equity in the energy space. What is preventing energy systems from achieving equitable outcomes currently? How can those of us who work in the energy field—regulators, utilities, community organizers and activists—actively take steps to remedy the inequities currently being produced?
The Spark Discussion panel featured speakers who shared concrete examples of research, policy and approaches to implementation designed to grow equity in the energy sector and begin rectifying unequal outcomes. Kelly Lucci, Director of Partner and Customer Engagement at VEIC, shared results of Efficiency Vermont’s recent efforts to quantify inequities in Total Energy Burden in Vermont, showed how that data is being used to shape and improve programs and reflected on the ways that VEIC works to increase equity in its own processes. Michael DiRamio, Assistant Director of Energy Affordability and Equity at NYSERDA, shared ways that New York energy regulators are working to transform their approach to regulation and ensure equitable climate and energy outcomes for disadvantaged communities. Jennifer Green, Sustainability Coordinator, and Darren Springer, General Manager, of the Burlington Electric Department shared some of the equity training and education the utility has undertaken along with specific components of Burlington’s Green Stimulus Plan. Eugenia Gibbons, Director of Climate Policy at Health Care Without Harm, shared insights gleaned from the work of the Massachusetts Climate Council’s Climate Justice Working Group to redress energy system and climate change impact inequalities.