Energy Justice

We’re committed to working with intention to build a more inclusive and equitable path forward to 100% clean energy.

Vote Solar works in partnership with equity organizations to build a just energy system that centers frontline communities, low-wealth communities, and communities of color.

Historic injustices have burdened frontline communities, low-wealth communities, and communities of color with the worst impacts of pollution and the climate crisis.

Lytese Dubois at her solar home in Illinois Credit: Certasun

What is Energy Justice?

Journalists interview Cecilia Laguna

Supporting Community Power

The current U.S. electricity system powers all of our communities, but it impacts those communities very differently.

Since 1882, when Thomas Edison activated the first U.S. electricity power plant in New York City, low-wealth communities, Indigenous Peoples, and communities of color have disproportionately borne the health and environmental burdens, and received less of the economic benefits, of the United States’ central station, fossil fuel-based energy system.  And today those same communities also are most at risk from the harmful impacts of climate change.

Now we are at a turning point, with the U.S.’s polluting fossil power plant fleet being retired and increasingly being replaced by cost-competitive clean energy resources, including solar power. A 100% clean energy future powered by at least 50% solar energy can improve health, create economic opportunity, and build a more just and equitable energy system for every community at the same time that it’s meeting our nation’s electricity needs.

However, in order to fully realize solar energy’s potential as a force for social good, we must take a hard look at past injustices and work with intention to build a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just clean energy future. Ensuring that every community in the U.S. has access to, and benefits from, this transformation requires policies and processes that are explicitly designed to achieve that outcome.

NAACP Energy Justice training

Process Matters

Vote Solar is taking deliberate, sustained, and conscientious attention to partnership with environmental justice groups, communities of color, and other community organizations in the places we wish to serve.

Advancing equity, inclusion, diversity, and justice within and beyond Vote Solar is critical to our success. We are taking deliberate, sustained, and conscientious attention to partnership with environmental justice groups, communities of color, and other community organizations in the places we work. Working with these partners, we formulate policy solutions that will break down over a century of energy inequities and lead to a more equitable clean energy future.  We advocate for policies, programs, and incentives designed to provide bill savings, wealth generation, jobs, and improvements to local air quality and public health.

For example, we know that communities of color, low-income communities, and other historically marginalized groups contribute to state funding sources for renewable energy, and their contributions are disproportionally high. As such, we believe that state policies should equitably convey benefits back to these communities. We support policies that result in equitable distribution of community wealth, and do not continue to contribute to inequitable social power structures through the redistribution of statewide funding sources.

Vote Solar seeks to learn from partners on the front lines and work with them to develop and advocate for solutions.  So, we are learning from our partners and using resources like the 100% Network’s Comprehensive Building Blocks for a Regenerative and Just 100% Policy,  the Initiative for Energy Justice’s workbook and Energy Justice Scorecard, energy democracy resources curated by the Emerald Cities Collaborative, the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program, and others.

As we approach partnerships, we are actively seeking guidance following the guidance laid out in the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing.

Our Just Partnership Principles »

We are proud of inclusive campaigns we have built with frontline groups to date, and will continually evaluate our goals and practices as we seek to build a more just, equitable, and inclusive clean energy future.

Spotlight: New Jersey

In New Jersey we worked with a diverse coalition of community-based, social justice, environmental, industry and faith organizations to develop our NJ Shines campaign -- a policy platform to implement a vision of a resilient and equitable solar powered New Jersey that creates opportunities for everyone to thrive.

Florida child with sun sign

Spotlight: Florida

We worked with frontline partners in Florida to create the country’s largest, voluntary utility-led shared solar program. As the result of our work with frontline community advocates, FPL’s SolarTogether program will also create the country’s largest low-income shared solar offering, helping as many as 10,000 low-income Florida families benefit from solar.

NJ rooftop installation

GRID Alternatives & Vote Solar

Low-Income Solar Policy Guide

Lavannya & Mayane

Policy Priorities

Our Access & Equity Work

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