Energy Democracy – Renewable Energy Opportunities in the Rural South examines the renewable energy potential in the rural South through the lens of the Black Family Land Trust (BFLT).
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What would it look like if farmers in Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina were leading the nation as solar producers, providing for the energy needs of their communities? Imagine: cleaner air for our children, a decreasing reliance on imported fuels, a reinvigorated economy, job opportunities, and even conservation of the farmland that helps feed our nation.
We can do more than just imagine the possibilities. We can achieve them. We have the ability to be more creative as new technologies have made harnessing renewable resources, like solar, promising. And that is a good thing. Particularly for the rural South which boasts a strong potential to harness the sun’s power to create local, USA-made electricity that can help power our nation.
But we cannot achieve this dream overnight. It requires organization, community-participation, public investment, and policy change. And this effort is needed now, more than ever. Farmers across the nation are faced with the peril of losing farm land. According to the American Farmland Trust, we are losing one acre per minute to commercial and residential development. And while all farmers face this predicament, farmers of color throughout the South watch their land disappear at an even more disastrous rate.
However, there is a sustainable solution that can work for all farmers – the utilization of farmland to create clean, renewable energy while maintaining food production. This can help farmers save their land while fueling the nation’s energy and food demands.
Leveraging the resilience, innovation, and resourcefulness of Black farmers in the South, the Black Family Land Trust (BFLT) is building a foundation for achieving such a solution. The BFLT dedicates capacity, expertise, and resources to support Black farmers, landowners, and ranchers to be recognized as assets and producers in an ever-changing economy. In collaboration with the BFLT’s work to organize and support Black farmers in the South, the Center for Social Inclusion introduces: Renewable Energy Opportunities in the Rural South, a resource for the BFLT and its constituents.
This packet provides an overview of what renewable energy potential exists in the rural South, summarizes grant opportunities, and identifies technical assistance resources that can help farmers navigate the process and build a strategy towards developing a renewable energy future. The packet also identifies barriers that Black farmers face, particularly in Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina, while offering short-term and long-term recommendations for the Black Family Land Trust.