By Yvonne Cappel-Vickery, AAE's Clean Energy Grid Organizer
Policy Center, Soulardarity, Taproot Earth, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Vote Solar gathered in New Orleans, Louisiana to address the issue of unprecedented new transmission investments being made within MISO. The organizations and individuals who participated in the convening all had one thing in common - the Midcontinent System Operator (MISO), a 15-state regional transmission operator.
MISO has begun a historic Long Range Transmission Planning process that, if done with equity in mind, can help millions of people access affordable, renewable energy while creating a more resilient electric grid that also represents input and guidance from communities most directly impacted by electric grid infrastructure. There are many upcoming transmission planning opportunities, like MISO’s tranche 3, which will bring transmission planning to Louisiana. Still, these processes must not repeat the same lack of equitable planning as our current electric grid infrastructure system.
Because of the many opportunities related to renewable energy development and transmission expansion, the equitable grid convening led to the beginning phases to develop a method for impacted communities to exert influence on grid planning decisions that previously were largely suppressed. After many months of collaborative work, a set of Equitable Grid Principles has been developed.
The principles are designed to guide grid infrastructure stakeholders in equitable transmission planning, the public utility commission processes, and other grid decision-making processes. When implemented, the principles will help improve health, create good local jobs, provide financial benefits, and avoid placing additional burdens on communities already impacted by environmental health hazards.
Developing the Equitable Grid Principles was an opportunity to begin dismantling the barriers between communities and the decisionmaking process of our current electricity transmission infrastructure. The Equitable Grid Principles is a living document. As we expand our understanding of equitable planning, we hope to see the principles expand into a set of genuinely inclusive principles. These principles should not replace engaging impacted communities directly. Affected community members must be allowed to represent themselves in discussions about these principles. The Equitable Grid Cohort recommends that stakeholders introduce these principles via a popular education model or participatory design approach. Popular education is a technique designed to raise the consciousness of its participants and allow them to become more aware of how an individual’s personal experiences are connected to larger societal problems.
The equitable grid principles include Indigenous rights, accountable decisionmaking, accessibility and procedural justice, community control and governance, local control and value, prioritize renewable and energy efficiency, and more. If you want to learn more about the Equitable Grid Principles, please contact Yvonne@all4energy.org. The Alliance for Affordable Energy looks forward to encouraging the use of the Equitable Grid Principles with partners and decision-makers as we continue to work towards a transition to an affordable, decarbonized energy future.
The Equitable Grid Principles Include:
Photo Source: Colin Byers/UCS