Do You Know Who Holds the Power (and the Air, and the Heat, and the Water…)? By Jacqui Patterson
Article by Jacqui Patterson
Originally Published on Urban Resilience Project
November 7, 2022
These commissions are critical to the accessibility and affordability of our water, energy, internet, and transportation — as well as the quality of our air and water.
Public Utilities/Public Service Commissions hold vast decision-making responsibilities and power over the energy, water, telecommunications, and sometimes transportation resources that are generated and consumed in our communities.
But who are the people who make up these Commissions? Do they really have the best interest of communities at heart? Do they truly understand the needs of communities most impacted by fluctuating utility costs, proximity to unhealthy power plants, and crumbling infrastructure?
A timely new report, Who Holds the Power: Demystifying and Democratizing Public Utilities Commissions demystifies these critical entities, whose missions are tied to our environmental and economic health. Importantly, it shows how we can ensure that Public Utilities/Public Service Commissions reflect and represent the interests of those they serve.
We know that environmental and economic crises disproportionately impact communities of color, women, people with disabilities, children, elders, and people who are LGBTQIA. These groups have been historically, systemically marginalized. However, Who Holds the Power reveals that:
The keys to advancing equity and inclusion in the PUCs/PSCs are directly tied to representational governance. When the commissioners occupying those seats truly see themselves as accountable to the people, the public wins. Armed with this new report, communities can rise up, get involved, hold these officials accountable, and “be the change we want to see in the world.”
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