In this profile, we feature Co-op Power, founded in 2004 as a multi-race, multi-class, consumer-owned energy cooperative that promotes access to sustainable energy for communities in Massachusetts and Southern Vermont. Co-op Power secures resources for local leaders working to create community-owned clean energy projects and businesses, energy efficiency teams, and green jobs training programs that serve the needs of the region’s low-income communities and communities of color.
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Co-op Power boasts more than 500 members, 33% of whom self-identify as low-income earners. Each of these members supports local efforts that are part of a growing, regional network that works to shift the region’s energy economy toward inclusion, self-determination, sustainability, and community ownership.
In profiling Co-op Power, we highlight the following takeaways:
1. Low-income communities and communities of color can be both contributing participants and beneficiaries in the efforts to expand access to sustainable energy resources and to create opportunities for local ownership of clean energy;
2. A consumer-owned cooperative approach can support multiple strategies to build Energy Democracy;
3. Local leaders can help community-led efforts get to scale with the support of a regional network;
4. We need policies that will support local communities’ ability to plan, create, own, and benefit from clean energy investments in order to create a just and sustainable energy system.
This is the second installment in a series of profiles that seek to elevate the strategies that communities use to achieve Energy Democracy. In particular, we focus on strategies in which communities, particularly communities of color, are innovators, planners, and decisions makers on how to use and create energy that is both local and renewable.
Our first profile featuring Namasté Solar elevated the economic, social, and environmental impacts of an employee-owned cooperative based in Boulder, Colorado that has installed more than 3,100 solar electric systems in the United States.