In a new report produced with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Synapse Energy Economics, RAP and Community Action Partnership take an in-depth look at the disparate impacts of electric and natural gas infrastructure on economic, social, and health outcomes — and consider how to ensure that a clean-energy future is a more equitable future. The report finds a variety of opportunities for policymakers:
- Improve access to energy. Utility customers should be better protected against having their service shut off when they fall behind on payments. Incentives to invest in distributed energy resources, like combined solar and storage systems, can expand the reach of these innovations.
- Make energy easier to afford. Clean-energy technologies must be affordable and accessible, while electricity rate designs should protect low-income households from paying more than their share of the costs to integrate these technologies into the electric grid. Communities served by cooperative utilities need resources to work with utility management to affordably transition away from coal.
- Reduce environmental hazards. Energy and environmental regulators need to align their work to recognize the full value that clean-energy technology brings to controlling pollution from energy infrastructure. Communities can also use clean energy to build greater resilience in the face of extreme-weather events. And as carbon allowance trading markets expand, states participating in them should invest the revenues with environmental justice goals in mind.
- Put people to work on the energy transition. Workers and communities that depend on the fossil-fuel industry need a path to training and secure, well-paid new employment, and the clean-energy workforce needs to become more diverse.