Equity in Clean Energy Transformation

When equity is approached intentionally, municipalities and their partners can create clean energy programs for broad adoption. This knowledge-exchange introduces A Guidebook On Equitable Clean Energy Program Design For Local Governments And Partners and related resources, developed with active contributions from CUSP and members.


A Guidebook On Equitable Clean Energy Program Design For Local Governments And Partners

This guidebook introduces a process and principles that local governments and their partners can use to design equitable clean energy programs in their communities.

Supported by the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) Innovation Fund, the intent of the 2018 ‘Equity in Clean Energy Transformation’ project was to develop actionable resources for local governments and partners to use to advance social equity in clean energy program design and implementation in their communities.

Seven core USDN cities from the U.S. and Canada were involved throughout the project, as well as an Equity Advisory Committee, composed of eight representatives whose work or lived experiences could ground the research.  Canadian contributors to this project included the City of Toronto as core participant to this project, CUSP’s managing director as project advisor, and all of CUSP’s member municipalities as observing cities to this project.

Case Study: Cooperative Energy Futures

Cooperative Energy Futures is an energy services cooperative (co-op) in Minnesota that develops community solar gardens (CSGs). Their model prioritizes
increasing access to solar for low-income residents and renters by offering pay-as-you-go subscriptions and utilizing backup subscribers to eliminate the need for
credit scores during customer enrolment.

Case Study: Craft 3

Craft3 is a nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI) that makes loans to increase the resilience of families, businesses, and communities. It
offers a range of products that can compose up to 100 percent financing for energy efficiency projects

Case Study: Cully Car Share

This pilot electric vehicle (EV) car-sharing program was started by an EV advocacy nonprofit and an affordable housing nonprofit in Portland’s Cully Neighborhood.  This peer-to-peer connection program provides alternative transportation options to an underserved neighborhood that is not adequately connected to public transportation or other car-sharing options.

Case Study: HeatSmart/CoolSmart

The City of Somerville, Massachusett’s HeatSmart/CoolSmart program offered an affordable pathway for income eligible homeowners to receive zero-interest,
deferred-payment loans for renewable heating and cooling installations of air-sourced heat pumps.

Inventory of Equitable Clean Energy Programs Reviewed

This workbook summarizes the results of desk research on equity-oriented renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in the United States and Canada during the spring of 2018. It includes programs focused on the following technologies: solar PV (community solar and rooftop solar), electric vehicles, energy efficiency, renewable heating and cooling, and solar + storage. The goal of the inventory is to provide local governments and their community stakeholders with a set of example programs that meaningfully apply principles of equity and inclusion to renewable energy and energy efficiency offerings.

The “programs’ tab contains summary information for 43 programs. Each program is a row in the spreadsheet. The columns outline specific aspects of each program, including topics such as locational data, stakeholders (key partners, program eligibility, and the program’s target audience or impacted demographic groups), scale (households served, and budget), funding and financing mechanisms, potential for growth (scale and replication), equitable design components (community participation in program design, complementary programs or services, outreach and intake strategies), and program outcomes. 

The ‘analysis’ tab contains summary statistics on the US and Canadian programs reviewed. These analyses include summaries by technology type and climate region.