We envision a renewable energy system that is led by and prioritizes solutions for low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color who are most negatively impacted by our current energy and economic system. We transform our communities’ relationship to power through advocacy, organizing, job creation, coalition-building, policy research, and public education for an equitable, sustainable energy future
New York’s REV process provides an important first step to bring this vision to life, and we invite you to join us in the fight for energy democracy in New York State and beyond.
Principles of Unity
- New York State should transition quickly and equitably to 100% clean, renewable, fossil-free, nuclear-free energy in order to address climate change, build resilient communities and create economic opportunities.
- The key pillars of our energy future should be energy efficiency, conservation, climate resilience, and public or community-owned or controlled renewable energy assets.
- The clean energy economy should eliminate environmental, racial and economic injustice and energy insecurity by targeting the benefits of state-funded energy efficiency and distributed renewable energy development to communities confronting those injustices.
- Every New Yorker should receive the health, economic, and environmental benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency, regardless of home-ownership status, location, race, wealth, or income.
- State energy policy should revolve around New Yorkers as energy savers, producers, educators, innovators, owners/investors and, most importantly, decision-makers, not just as “customers.”
- All institutions that make decisions for the public around energy or energy market development should create mechanisms to ensure widespread and meaningful participation in democratic decision-making, transparency, and public accountability.
- Public funding should prioritize high-quality job creation, with clear career pathways for local people often left out of economic opportunities, including people of color, youth, women, formerly incarcerated individuals, refugees, immigrants, veterans, long-term unemployed and members of frontline climate-vulnerable communities.
- State energy policy should support the growth and development of democratically controlled institutions such as municipal utilities and cooperative businesses to serve as anchors within their local communities.
Read About Some of Our Victories
- In 2018, we passed legislation in the State Assembly to adjust New York’s disastrous VDER policy to make solar energy possible for low-income communities. As a direct result of this pressure, the Public Service Commission changed the policy to allow a “community credit” and make solar energy more accessible.
- We successfully pushed for the creation of the “Solar For All” program, to provide renewable energy free of charge to 10,000 low income households.
- In 2017, we achieved a commitment from NYSERDA to develop a “Solar for All” program, which will provide free solar energy to 10,000 low-income households to help them reduce their energy bills by about 20%.
- We have held energy workshops across New York to help people understand the energy system and the opportunities to make their voices heard in the REV process as well as to participate at the local level to build community-owned and controlled renewable energy projects.
- In 2016, we won a landmark energy affordability policy in New York. We led a coalition to address the high energy burden that low-income New Yorkers face. Hundreds of thousands of households in New York are behind on their energy bills and over 200,000 have their utility service shut off for lack of affordability. The new energy affordability policy, which is going into effect this year, sets a goal that no households should pay more than 6% of their income for energy. In the short term, it dramatically increases the discounts that low-income households receive on their energy bills.
- We have been working to ensure that public funds for renewable energy and energy efficiency are spent equitably — meaning that at least 40% of public funding for clean energy programs is spent in a way that benefits low-income communities and communities of color. This is only fair because all New Yorkers pay into these funds through surcharges on their energy bills, but the most vulnerable residents face barriers to be able to access these funds for solar energy or energy efficiency. In 2016, we scored a commitment that $234.5 million would be carved out of the Clean Energy Fund for low and moderate-income households. This is an important step in the rights direction and we continue to fight for more.
- Our work has yielded results. In 2015, we helped pressure Governor Cuomo and the Public Service Commission to enable community solar in New York, a policy that requires utility companies to let people to buy into or subscribe to community solar arrays and receive bill credits for the energy generated by those arrays. This policy allows people who do not own their own property or who cannot put solar on their own roof to go solar.
- We have engaged thousands of people and over 100 organizations to comment on REV proceedings, calling for energy democracy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, equitable funding and access, community ownership, and public accountability.
- In our first year, we forced the New York Public Service Commission to hold more than 20 hearings on REV policies, and we educated and organized residents from across New York to attend those hearings and speak about their aspirations for renewable energy, their frustrations with extractive utility and energy companies, and their vision for New York State energy policy.