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Today in the SF Bay Area, we’re choking on smoke from wildfires caused by thousands of lightening strikes (also, high humidity, thunderstorms and lightening? In the Bay Area? In August? Super weird). Climate change is responsible for creating the conditions for all this. Fighting climate change is an all-hands-on-deck moment. It’s no secret that diverse teams are essential. Let’s get to it.

Where Do We Start?
We’re not going to be able to fix the whole mess all at once. Here are a few ways to start:

Policy / regulatory

  • equitable seats at the table in the room where it happens. Let’s make sure everyone can access and influence legislation negotiations and regulatory proceedings. In order to make that happen, we’ll need to reach out to and authentically engage diverse communities in decision making. …

Original post:

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Clean tech exists to fight climate change. But we’re going about it with one hand tied behind our backs. Let’s fix that.

We know climate change disproportionately impacts low wealth communities and communities of color. By its very nature, our mission is anti-racist. But our lack of diversity across our own teams handicaps our efforts. And the benefits of clean energy simply do not accrue equally to all individuals and communities.

In addition to the moral imperative to diversify, which is massive, diversity in clean tech is simply good business. This is a huge opportunity for our industry not only to ally ourselves with what is right, but to grow. We can stamp out racism and exclusion where we see it. Doing that will make our industry stronger.

By Shiva Patel and Connie Leeper

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With the ongoing COVID-19 and racial violence pandemics, we are amidst an opportunity for bold, systemic transformation. Renowned author and activist Arundhati Roy has recently familiarized the notion of the “pandemic as a portal.” For us, one of these portals to a more transformative and just world is the launching of the Energy Democracy Leadership Institute (EDLI) in North Carolina (albeit virtual for now).

EDLI is a recent creation of the NC Climate Justice Collective, with support from NC WARN and an incredible Indigenous youth organizer and leader, Jorden Revels. The demand for and emergence of EDLI can also be attributed to and contextualized within the broader movement for Energy Democracy, including leadership from community-based organizations and alliances like the Climate Justice Alliance (Energy Democracy working group), Emerald Cities Collaborative, Local Clean Energy Alliance, the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program and the Partnership for Southern Equity. …

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Rural electric cooperatives need more support. (Photo by Joyce Romero on Unsplash)

Reforms can help poor communities of color

By Shiva Patel and Wan Smith

In March, before the COVID-19 crisis deepened in the United States, 30 people from 15 states met up in New Orleans at the National Rural Electric Co-op Association annual meeting. We were among them and, in a national meeting of more than 6,000 people, our little group stuck out like a sore thumb.

Consisting mainly of African Americans and other minorities, this collective was unique among the predominantly older white male executives representing most of the 900 rural electric cooperatives around the country.

We’d come with a purpose: It’s time to reform these electricity cooperatives in a way that’s fair, transparent, responsive to local communities and ready to address the climate crisis. …

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Distributed solar panels are crucial in fighting climate change (Photo by Vivint Solar on Unsplash)

After approving SMUD’s anti-rooftop solar program, California Energy Commission should honor state’s landmark mandate

By Shiva Patel and Dave Rosenfeld

The bright future of rooftop and community solar in a California just got a little dimmer.

On Feb. 20 the California Energy Commission approved a controversial proposal from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). The proposal, called SolarShares, generated wide vocal opposition from residents and environmentalists who worried that it would undermine California’s landmark building standard requiring solar on all new homes.

If this standard is going to work, the commission should reconsider the SMUD application and carefully scrutinize all future applications. …

Why we should all care about building clean, resilient power

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Original art by Hallie Zillman (Courtesy of Willie St. Co-op)

I descend from a long line of rural farmers in the northern Indian state of Gujarat. In this area, centralized infrastructure is very limited. As India scales up its energy development, it’s showcasing a pathway to a more efficient, less polluting energy system that could be mirrored in rural communities here in the United States.

Many villages, like the one where my relatives live, are developing extensive electricity grids for the first time. They have little choice but to burn dirty and expensive kerosene for their energy needs, contributing to the damaging impacts of indoor air pollution. They’re also battling the destructive effects of climate change, including extreme heat and dwindling water reserves. …

¿Por qué nos debe importar la democracia energética?

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Esta historia apareció originalmente el 20 de junio de 2018

Para mí, trabajar para detener las amenazas a las comunidades y a las especies en peligro de extinción va más allá de pelear por detener la extracción de combustibles fósiles, contaminación y sobre consumo. Yo también quiero luchar por una transición justa a un sistema alternativo de energía.

En esa transición es que encuentro esperanza. Es el lugar que resalta un cambio positivo, orientado en iniciativas que dan soluciones tangibles a problemas que están ocurriendo en todas las partes de nuestro país.

La mayoría de los estadounidenses toman su energía de compañías de utilidades de inversión que controlan el monopolio de los mercados de energía. Estas utilidades están usualmente reguladas por comisiones de servicio público, con quienes estas compañías tienen convenientemente relaciones cercanas. …

Why we should care about energy democracy

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For me, working to stop threats to endangered species and our communities is about more than fighting destructive fossil fuel extraction, pollution and over-consumption — I also want to support a just transition to an alternative energy system.

That transition is where I find hope. It’s a place that highlights some of the positive, solution-oriented initiatives happening across the country.

Many Americans get their energy from investor-owned utilities that have monopoly control over energy markets. These utilities are usually regulated by public utility commissions, with which they often enjoy long-standing and cozy relationships.

Between these utilities and their regulators, decisions are made that affect not only electricity prices, but also how easy and affordable it is for their customers to go solar. …


Shiva Patel

An MBA student at UC Berkeley, Haas (Class of 2022), focused on the intersection of (and bridges between) climate justice and finance.

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