Two Big Steps for Renewable Energy in Communities of Color

Media Contact: Dennis Chin
Phone: 212-248-2785 x1450; Email:

Two Big Steps for Renewable Energy in Disadvantaged Communities

NEW YORK, NY—On August 3, 2015, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Clean Power Plan—a new initiative to dramatically cut carbon emissions from power plants, the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States, and to set the stage for states to move towards cleaner energy.

Notably, the Plan provides extra incentives for states that prioritize equity. This means that states will benefit by working with and investing in communities most vulnerable to the effects of pollution—low-income communities and communities of color.

The Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) applauds this historic news. By including equity measures in the Plan, the White House and EPA validates that without low-income communities and communities of color, the nation’s fastest growing demographic, we cannot fully stop the growing threat of climate change.

But, as with all federal policy, state implementation of this Plan is key.  One state is already one step ahead: New York.

Flying under the radar, New York State, through its existing initiatives—Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) and the Clean Energy Fund(CEF)—already has laid the groundwork for a distributive, shared, renewable energy system that would allow New Yorkers to be producers and consumers of the renewable energy that heats homes, powers businesses, and boosts New York’s economy.

As part of the initiatives, last month New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) announced new regulatory rules that are, by far, the largest equitable goals of any shared renewables policy in the nation. For New York State, this is a step in the right direction, particularly for New Yorkers of color who are more likely to be renters, and it’s a clear model for how other states should act.

CSI’s Co-Director of Policy & Strategy Anthony Giancatarino says:

“The President’s new plan to combat climate change puts equity, specifically racial equity, in the hands of states. New York already is a step ahead by launching new initiatives that will lay the groundwork for a new renewable energy system that potentially will benefit low-income residents. We will continue to work with our community partners to push New York and other states to make racial equity an integral piece of a clean energy economy.”

CSI worked with grassroots leaders to convene the New York Energy Democracy Alliance—a statewide coalition of grassroots environmental, environmental justice, and economic justice organizations—and Vote Solar—a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream —to push for equity in New York’s shared renewables policy.

While this is a big win, the work is far from over. We need to build on this success and use the Clean Power Plan as leverage to continue to demand that the New York Public Service Commission centers racial equity as it looks to successfully implement its initiatives. You can read our recommendations to the Commission here.

To schedule an interview with Anthony Giancatarino, contact Dennis Chin at

About the Center for Social Inclusion:
The Center for Social Inclusion is a national strategy, policy, and communications organization working across community, government and other institutions to transform structural barriers to opportunity for communities of color.


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