Originally published on the blog of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
In December 2018, the Union of Concerned Scientists convened a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss the equitable deployment of energy storage. The group—which included environmental justice and grassroots organizations, policy experts, industry, labor, consumer advocates, faith groups, and renewable energy advocates—collectively developed a set of consensus principles for equitable storage deployment.
The principles—which have been signed by 26 participating organizations—are intended to help state policymakers promote energy storage, address the needs of disadvantaged communities, and avoid inadvertent harm. The stakeholders grappled with the following questions:
- How can storage be deployed to reduce emissions and improve air quality?
- How can storage make communities and residents more resilient to disasters and power outages?
- How can storage promote local economic development and job growth?
- How can storage help accelerate greater levels of renewable energy on the grid?
- How can storage help reduce electricity bills?
- How can policymakers ensure that communities have a seat at the table?
The Union of Concerned Scientists convened a group of diverse stakeholders, including environmental justice and grassroots organizations, policy experts, industry, labor, consumer advocates, faith groups, and renewable energy advocates, in December 2018 in Chicago, Illinois, focused on the equitable deployment of energy storage. Energy storage is poised to expand dramatically, transforming the way we produce and use electricity. It is critical that this expansion and the transition to a clean energy economy address the needs of vulnerable residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods and frontline communities without inadvertently causing harm.
The participants developed a set of consensus principles for storage deployment that elevate the critical importance of community-led clean energy solutions. Together, these principles can help state policymakers focus on solutions that ensure that the growth of energy storage improves all communities, including environmental justice communities, communities of color, low income residents, tribal communities, and historically disadvantaged communities. Importantly, these principles are not meant to constrain organizations taking stronger positions on particular policies, regulatory proceedings, or project proposals.
Reducing emissions. Incentivize energy storage in a variety of applications to help replace fossil fuel-fired power plants and pipelines or to substitute generation from those plants, thus improving the health of frontline communities by cutting emissions that harm local air quality and contribute to climate change.
These principles elevate the importance of community-led clean energy solutions, and help state policymakers ensure that energy storage improves all communities.
Improving resilience. Ensure that energy storage helps make residents and communities more resilient to both human-caused and natural disasters—which will become more frequent and severe due to climate change—by deploying local, on-site power to keep essential services operating during extended power outages and by restoring power after a disaster.
Promoting local economic development. Ensure access to federal, state, and local job training and career-oriented apprenticeship programs, including those certified by the Department of Labor, for energy storage installation and commissioning. Include complementary policies that drive local economic development in historically underinvested communities, train residents for long term career opportunities, and provide economic benefits to disadvantaged communities without increasing costs of living.
Accelerating greater levels of renewable energy deployment. Accelerate the development and deployment of energy storage that accommodates higher levels of renewable energy on the grid to reduce heat-trapping emissions and other harmful pollutants, with a special focus on local reductions in environmentally overburdened communities.
Protecting consumers. Ensure that energy storage lowers electricity bills for ratepayers and is used maximally to ensure savings from all services it provides, and incentivize ownership models that lead to direct community benefits. Ensuring participation. Engage in a robust and transparent stakeholder process that empowers community self-determination, facilitates collaboration, and responds to community perspectives, so that industry can ensure that energy storage projects are successful and adequately elevate the views of the most affected parties.
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