Demand quality outreach and public participation

During the development of the 100% regenerative policies and during their implementation, frontline communities should be considered leaders, partners, co-sponsors, and co-collaborators.

Energy policies are often written and discussed in closed room negotiations. Historically, BIPOC and frontline communities are not consulted and their voices are completely left out of the policymaking despite the direct impact energy policies have on these communities. Engagement in energy policymaking is resource- and capacity-intensive, creating tremendous hurdles for participation by BIPOC and frontline communities. Moreover, hearings and proceedings are incredibly inaccessible, with very little or no regard for language access and cultural competency.

Policy recommendations

A 100% policy should include meaningful public participation or community-driven planning and implementation strategies, such as:

Collaboration with BIPOC and frontline communities and community-based organizations. Collaboration should occur during development of the 100% regenerative policy and during implementation. BIPOC and frontline communities should be considered leaders, partners, co-sponsors, and co-collaborators.

  • Processes should be created for co-governance and collective accountability with BIPOC and frontline communities. For example, state PUC or PSC’s should create infrastructure that brings BIPOC and frontline voices into the room as experts and leaders shaping and advising policies and implementation efforts.

Consultation with and leadership from Tribal nations. (See Tribal Sovereignty and Rights section for background and details).

Full accessibility to public hearings that includes:

  • Translation of materials into necessary languages and interpretation during meetings and hearings
  • Outreach to BIPOC and frontline communities, such as holding local workshops

Public funds for “intervenors” for costs and fees. This would enable them to participate in regulatory proceedings. Funds for intervernor compensation would enable community leaders to participate in a public utility commission proceeding by intervening, or taking official legal action, in the proceeding. Some states, such as California, reimburse intervenors through “intervenor compensation.” Through intervenor compensation, organizations are able to fund the capacity of BIPOC and frontline communities to participate in often inaccessible and resource-intensive proceedings.

Community based program delivery. Advocates should not rely solely on the program administrator or the utilities to implement a 100% regenerative policy for a number of reasons. Primarily, they are not structured, skilled, or trusted by customers to provide effective service delivery. Program delivery should be led by BIPOC and frontline communities. The implementing agency should collaborate with community-based organizations with relationships in the community on program delivery.

  • Outreach and education that is linguistically- and culturally-appropriate on the key components of the 100% regenerative policy should be developed. It should include all the opportunities for engagement on renewable energy, energy efficiency, demand response, and transportation justice.

Clear metrics for outreach. Metrics should be required so that outreach is not simply a “checkbox”. Types of metrics include: specific addresses outreached to, number and frequency of community meetings, frequency of one-on-one conversations, types and frequency of social media outreach, and which languages translated into.

Capacity support. BIPOC and frontline groups should have support for legal and technical capacity, or the ability to pursue public funding.

Examples

Example from the Washington Carbon Emissions proposition: Twenty percent of the healthy communities account must be reserved for developing community capacity to participate in the implementation of this chapter, including the preparation of funding proposals. Funds for this community capacity program must be allocated through a competitive process with a preference for projects proposed by vulnerable populations in pollution and health action areas and rural communities. Any Indian tribe that applies must receive up to two hundred thousand dollars per year to build tribal capacity to participate in the implementation of this chapter. The department of commerce shall work with the environmental and economic justice panel to develop draft procedures, criteria, and rules for this program.[1]

References

  1. Washington Carbon Emissions Fee.” Win My Vote. Accessed 14 Nov. 2019.