CERTs collaborated in recently launched Energy Equity Project

September 2022

Interview with Justin Schott

Justin SchottCERTs was one of many organizations nationally providing partnership and feedback with the Energy Equity Project.

We spoke with Justin Schott, project manager, to learn more about the need for a standardized framework to advance equity in the industry. 

Please tell us about the Energy Equity Project

The Energy Equity Project was created to address the need for a standardized framework for measuring and advancing equity in the clean energy transition.

Energy Equity Project Report 2022
University of Michigan | School for Environment and Sustainability

Who are you trying to reach with this information?

Now that we've released the first iteration of the framework, we are focused on working with groups that have an interest in using it as part of their energy equity campaigns, decision- and rule-making, and prioritizing clean energy investments.

It's intended for a wide array of audiences — people who are curious about how the data compares to their lived experiences with the energy system, community organizations looking to leverage metrics to hold utilities accountable, regulators and policy-makers seeking to adopt energy equity metrics to define environmental justice communities and ensure the Justice40 mandate is met, to name a few. 

You worked with A LOT of partners across the country on this project. Why was that important?

Working with 45 organizations and nearly 400 authors was important so that we didn't create something in a vacuum.

Working collaboratively broadened the range of expertise that went into the framework. It forced us to confront some of the tensions and disparate views held by different audiences. Having so many eyes on the work lends credibility and perhaps most importantly, it cultivated a network of energy leaders who are now ready to champion implementation of the framework.

I hadn't identified all of these benefits when we started, but opening the circle as much as possible just seemed like the smart thing to do and in line with the Jemez Principles [PDF].

Why is it important to have partners in Minnesota for this project?

Regarding Minnesota specifically, you have a lot of activism, especially around community solar, relative to other states. But aside from that, the only thing I would mention is that energy poverty and insecurity hit Tribes hardest, and we also have the most serious data gaps in Tribal census tracts.

Any final thoughts?

The last thing I'll say is that we don't expect the framework to be something people use off the shelf. It's complex and more information than most people have time to sift through. Making it accessible to different audiences and providing direct support to individual partners and organizations is what's really going to make a difference. 

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