University of Michigan releases first framework designed to measure and advance energy equity

Originally posted by Denise Spranger for the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability.

ANN ARBOR—To bolster a just transition to cleaner, more resilient energy systems, the Energy Equity Project (EEP) today released the first standardized national framework for comprehensively measuring and advancing energy equity. EEP is housed at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) and is funded by the Energy Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and Crown Family Philanthropies.

Energy equity recognizes the historical and cumulative burdens of the energy system borne by frontline and low-income communities and by Black, Brown and Native people in particular. To eliminate these disparities, energy equity centers the voices of frontline communities in energy planning and decision-making, and ensures the fair distribution of clean energy benefits and ownership.

“For decades, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), frontline and low-income communities have borne the brunt of the negative impacts of the energy system while receiving a negligible slice of benefits from the clean energy transition,” said EEP Project Manager Justin Schott (MS ’06). “With the EEP Framework, we are both illuminating these inequities and establishing a process for reversing them. We can hope for the day when energy equity is the norm, but until then, the Framework is a powerful tool for accountability and ensuring measurable progress.”

Schott noted that EEP builds on the longtime contributions of energy justice leaders and frontline environmental justice communities by synthesizing existing resources and compiling dozens of data sets and best practices.

“The Framework is effectively an atlas of energy equity, and we hope users of all types, from a Public Utilities Commissioner to a community activist will find valuable insights and guidance,” said Schott. “We can’t wait to partner with organizations that are ready to apply this inaugural framework in their own communities.”

The EEP Framework was launched by SEAS Associate Professor Tony Reames, now serving as Deputy Director for Energy Justice at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) while he is on leave from U-M. EEP’s development is the result of 15 months of collaboration, including 10 listening sessions with more than 400 participants representing utilities, regulators, non-profit and academic practitioners, grassroots community organizations, and philanthropists. Over the course of 10 months, 45 workgroup members–leaders in energy equity from around the country–developed guiding principles, evaluated potential metrics and datasets, and determined how to represent equity through a combination of metrics, data, and best practices.

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