RES and other incentives also don’t pay attention to equity for communities of color or environmental-justice communities.
For that, the report recommends shifting the narrative on equity from focusing solely on income, “which fails to provide a full accounting of those in need,” and instead emphasizes demographics, income, renter status, “and other metrics that provide more of an intersectional approach to the problem.”
The equity recommendations are short on details but suggest listening, discussions, and outreach spearheaded by existing groups like the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council. Community groups should be relied on to decide which solutions to adopt to address technological access and housing and health issues, according to the report.
The Brattle Group recommends borrowing best practices from jobs programs in other states to establish community-based training programs for employment in the renewable-energy sector. The report also notes that new renewable-energy programs should include consumer protections for frontline communities and aid to low- and moderate-income households that go beyond installing technology to include plans for helping with upkeep and services.
“We must ultimately strive to prioritize the concerns of the community and address systemic inequities from our position of power as best we can,” according to the report.
A recent press release from the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) applauds Gov. Gina Raimondo for having the study done. Now that Raimondo is leaving for a job in the Biden administration, the fate of this project and other climate-related initiatives is unclear.
Even though the Jan. 13 press release says the new report “details analysis and pathways to reach that bold, but achievable goal” — meeting 100 percent of Rhode Island’s electricity demand with renewables by 2030 — there are no immediate plans to advance the recommendations in The Brattle Group report.
OER director Nicholas Ucci said the information is public and available to policymakers and stakeholders to use. Some efforts are already underway, he noted, such as a draft request for proposal for up to 600 megawatts of offshore wind energy.
The Brattle Group report cost $355,000 and was paid for by OER. The 11-member agency is funded by the system benefits charge paid by electricity ratepayers.
When asked how the change of leadership in the governor’s office might influence the plan, OER spokesperson Robert Beadle said, “We are not at liberty to comment on the governor’s transition at this time.”