Commercial, Industrial, Solar, Sourcing Renewables - August 24, 2022 - By Dana Clare Redden, Solar Stewards
New Frameworks for Clean Energy: We're Not In Kansas Anymore
This column, the third in a series from DiCE (Diversity in Clean Energy) highlights the need for and benefits of an equitable energy transition.
Can you feel a Brand New Day?!
Among the jubilant cheers of the recent passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, and the hard-earned sighs of relief from the advocates and constituents who tirelessly worked through gridlock, obstruction, and fading hope to see the IRA signed into law, remain the historically excluded communities who continue to hold cautious hope for a more equitable energy paradigm.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Historically excluded groups (HEG), or any group of people that has been historically excluded from full rights, privileges, and opportunities in a society or organization, could very well see significant progress towards climate equity and renewable energy access with exciting new provisions that utilize additional tax credits to incentivize renewable development in ‘Energy Communities.’ As promising and encouraging as it is, however, to have elements of equity included in law, the work to see these benefits realized has only just begun.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Solar Stewards works directly with HEGs and a national network of mission-aligned Community Partners to drive effective, meaningful, systems change. We utilize the term HEG to focus not on the misnomer of the term ‘minority,’ nor neglect to include those economically excluded such as in Appalachia or the fight for women’s rights. Contrary to the term ‘disadvantaged’ HEGs have been innovating and empowering America for centuries, despite systemic oppressive schemes. Our social enterprise recognizes this value and calls upon corporations to embrace it as well.
With our Solar Stewards Marketplace, corporates who realize the value of including equity within their climate action strategy have the opportunity to connect with a wealth of projects that feature equity at their core and purchase Social Renewable Energy Credits to support the projects and Community Partners associated with them. Social RECs are registered and retired like traditional RECs, however, they are priced at a rate and a term that is impactful. Social REC revenue is dedicated directly to the Community Partners who work first-hand with their communities, ensuring a community-driven approach. With these relationships, Solar Stewards is able to track quantifiable social impact, generate case studies, and continue to refine and support equity initiatives. Becoming a Climate Steward, or member of our Marketplace, makes this social enterprise approach possible and takes the guesswork that sometimes plagues DEI, ESG, and CSR efforts.
Be A Lion
Of course, it will take a courageous commitment of ALL Stakeholders to realize the benefits of an equitable energy transition available to ALL of us. There are an increasing amount of solutions that have an equity lens as stakeholder capitalism creates meets the moment and the consumer demand. The competitive advantage inherent in seizing the value of an inclusive company culture and strategy is available now. Starting with a Climate Equity goal is a great first step in identifying the right approach to prevent analysis-paralysis, while recognizing intentionality and action are critical.
Once a Climate Equity Goal has been established, the next step is to assess which approach can deliver on the equity promise. As with any claim, whether environmental or equitable, there are ways to evaluate whether these are legitimate. Our Community Partners reinforce these three pillars of social impact to guide you in these decisions:
- Community Driven: HEGs have long known what is best for their current and future success. It is critical to engage solutions that empower the voices and decisions of these communities.
- Direct Impact: The benefits of any commitment to equity must directly reach the intended communities. Despite being an obvious tenet, systems of oppression have normalized systems whereby HEGs still only benefit indirectly or partially.
- Quantifiable social impact: With the key performance indicators provided by communities, it is important to assess at realistic intervals what has been successful and what has fallen short. The dynamic nature of equity necessitates a fluid and responsive approach. Stay flexible and open to the process.
Home Sweet Home
The realization of an equitable and renewable energy transition is more than merely a dream. Whether you were raised with “The Wizard of Oz” or its contemporary and diverse version, “The Wiz, ” the universal themes of a journey, together, resonate with all of us. Although the journey to equity may sometimes feel like an odd odyssey away from our societal norms, this is in fact a sign of progress. The value of these efforts are as tangible and imperative as preserving an inhabitable Planet Earth, our collective home.
Editor's Note: Dana Clare Redden will co-present a session on "Integrating DEIJ and Climate Goals" at Smart Energy Decisions' Net Zero Forum, September 12-14 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix, AZ. A limited number of tickets are available. Click here for more information.
Celebrating over a decade in the solar industry, Dana Clare Redden is a passionate solar professional dedicated to the development of distributed generation solar globally. Growing up in a small rust-belt town in western Pennsylvania, the environmental impacts of fossil fuels shaped her perspective, particularly for disenfranchised communities and those most vulnerable. Realizing this need for environmental justice and greater resources, Dana founded Solar Stewards, a social enterprise connecting corporate social responsibility initiatives with schools and universities, affordable and senior housing, places of worship, and nonprofits in marginalized communities. Dana holds a Bachelors of Science degree from Drexel University as well as an Executive MBA from IE Business School and Brown University. She is among GRIST Magazine’s 50 Fixers, a two-time judge at the DOE/NREL Solar District Cup, and an ACORE Accelerate member, as well as a DiCE Board Member. She currently resides in Atlanta, GA where she continues to work at the intersection of climate action, environmental justice, and social entrepreneurship for communities worldwide.
Diversity in Clean Energy (“DiCE”), is an action-based coalition convened by Duke Energy working collaboratively with T-Mobile, Kroger, Microsoft, and three diverse-owned businesses operating within the clean energy ecosystem. Our visionary outcome is to advocate, utilize, and open doors of opportunity for diverse-owned businesses that operate within the clean energy value chain through our collaborative efforts and collective influence. The goal of DiCE is to drive inclusive and equitable practices in the sourcing and supplier selections across the clean energy value chain.