The PSE Convenes its Just Energy Summit

The Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE) convened its Just Energy Summit at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA Sept 21-22, 2018.  The summit brought together community citizens, academicians, and environmental activists to discuss the legacy of inequity and injustice that permeates American society resulting in the environmental hazards that devastate communities of color.

Most near-port communities are of color and/or impoverished, as are communities near to or containing hazardous materials dumpsites, or oil and gas refineries.[1][2][3]  This greater potential of exposure to hazardous materials has resulted in a greater number of health issues and illnesses in the Black community than in the general population.[4]  Additionally, across the nation, many zip codes with populations making incomes below the poverty level receive energy bills higher than their regional averages.[5][6][7]  The Just Energy Summit held two days of workshops and seminars to address these and related concerns.

The summit’s workshops presented analysis and possible solutions to many of the systemic environmental issues affecting African-Americans.  The sessions included:

  • Energy 101 – provided information on water, gas and electric utility bills and what you can do as a bill payer to achieve equity regarding energy charges;
  • Unfair Burden: The Plant Vogtle Debacle – at billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule, this panel discussed the cost to you, your family and your community of the plant expansion;
  • 100% Clean Energy – with Atlanta’s goals of achieving 100% clean energy by 2035, this workshop presented ways to voice your concerns and ensure all Atlantans benefit from this initiative. This was the first of several planned workshops between Partnership for Southern Equity and the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency;
  • Solar, Solarize and Building Wealth – As solar energy becomes more affordable, this workshop examined how solar “… can be a tool to build equity and generational wealth”;
  • “Owning Our Power” Organizing Session – With power bills skyrocketing, this session reviewed tools community leaders can use to build equity and power.

The Just Energy Summit is one in a series of conferences, training, and workshops the PSE promotes to education inspire and organize community citizens and local leaders on social and energy equity, environmental issues and topics, and community health concerns.  Other PSE initiatives include Just Energy Circle and Just Energy Academy.

“The Just Energy Circle (JEC) seeks to inspire new, diverse, authentic leadership that is recognized in prominent decision-making positions in both civic and private sectors. It aims to establish structures to ensure that energy opportunities are available to all, including low-income protections, reduced energy costs, and employment.”

“We invite you and other residents across Georgia to apply to be a part of the first Just Energy Academy (JEA).  This seven (7) month leadership development program was created to educate the next generation of equity leaders on energy equity and climate justice issues.”[8]

[1] https://phys.org/news/2016-01-minority-low-income-neighborhoods-hazardous-sites.html

[2] https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1615&context=yjil

[3] https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/african-americans-face-more-pollution-related-health-hazards-new-report-n820806

[4] https://insideclimatenews.org/news/01032018/air-pollution-data-african-american-race-health-epa-research

[5] https://www.citylab.com/equity/2016/04/electricity-bills-by-city-low-income-costs/478155/

[6] http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/uploadedFiles/CPUC_Public_Website/Content/About_Us/Organization/Divisions/Policy_and_Planning/PPD_Work/PPD_Work_Products_(2014_forward)/California%20Regions%20Final.pdf, pg. 23

[7] https://www.nrdc.org/experts/khalil-shahyd/study-highlights-energy-burden-households-and-how-energy-efficiency-can-help

[8] http://psequity.org/just-energy/