Equity in Energy
Understanding Equity in Energy
Given the transition to a clean energy future, we believe there is an unprecedented opportunity to engage new and diverse stakeholders in state- and local-level energy planning processes that have historically been underrepresented by the communities and populations that are most significantly impacted by their outcomes. This can create an opportunity to bring our highest ideals of collaborative governance and democratic principles to the challenge of setting the path for our energy future.
SEEA joins with our peers and a growing movement of stakeholders who believe that by making energy planning more democratic, we can make places healthier, reduce mounting energy costs, thereby empowering families to take better care of their needs, in the most equitable way. This is equity in energy.
SEEA operates within a region that needs creative solutions to the persistent poverty that has plagued its communities for generations. Despite a perception of low energy rates, due to factors like the significant cooling and heating loads associated with seasonal temperature variations in the Southeast, and the lack of efficiency measures and numerous utility bill charges, the region’s average utility bills are among the highest in the nation. According to an analysis conducted by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), four southeastern states – Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and South Carolina – fall into the top ten states in the nation for percent of household income spent on energy bills, and nine fall into the top 20. We cannot ignore the fact that the Southeast has an economy and quality of life that lags behind the rest of the country. This lag exists, in part, because the Southeast has not embraced clean energy solutions due to its political, cultural and historic issues involved in energy planning.
The Evolution of SEEA’s Equity Work
Over the past three years, and as an outgrowth of our work in the Better Buildings Program, SEEA has expanded its portfolio of work to understand the issues of equity in energy efficiency. SEEA’s evolution into energy equity is the result of more than three years of work in partnership with a broader set of stakeholders and advocacy groups that have sought out our collaboration in public policy development and leveraging our convening power to address the scale and efficacy of energy efficiency programs in low-income and vulnerable communities. For SEEA this has also been an exploration and advancement into broader issues of equity that exist across the Southeast’s energy infrastructure.
- Deepen our collective strategy and support of existing equity-focused organizations to better integrate energy policy-making with strategies for engagement and inclusion in energy planning processes;
- Promote the development of effective energy plans that leverage energy efficiency as a resource, and complementary regulatory policies and programs that support effective and equitable deployment of energy efficiency, especially to communities needing it the most.
- Invest in regional organizations or networks, via subgranting dollars, to support increased capacity for engagement in energy planning processes.
- Utilize the ARC Engagement Process, developed by Rooted Consulting Group and Glass Ladder Group, to analyze stakeholder and key audience opinions, and identifies what it takes to authentically activate them leading to further, more meaningful engagement.
- Prepare assessments, technical support resources (e.g., strategy documents, convening agendas, papers, presentations, briefings, templates, etc.) to improve energy efficiency program design and expansion, specifically for lower-wealth customers.
SEEA has been working with and getting to know a number of groups across the southeast region working to improve energy planning outcomes. In addition to the larger organizations and networks that are in place, there are a number of smaller groups on the frontlines of organizing local and state-based efforts that we are collaborating with:
Advancing Equity and
Kingdom Living Temple /