Season’s Greetings from the Urban Energy Justice Lab. This has sure been an unprecedented year. The pandemic is exacerbating the energy disparities that we study, proving that our work to create a more just global energy system is ever more important. Below are a few updates on what we have been doing over the past months. Please enjoy. We hope that you and your family stay safe, and send you well-wishes into the new year.

Director’s News

Dr. Reames testified before the Subcommittee on Energy of the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the US Congress to discuss the importance of an equity-based approach to improving clean energy access. Reames focused on the response and recognitions of energy poverty, disparities in access to clean energy technology, and a call for a national energy poverty and justice strategy. He was invited by US Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and introduced by US Rep. Debbie Dingle (D-MI). Read more.

Dr. Reames joins the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at University of Pennsylvania as a 2020-2021 visiting scholar. He will participate in various university programming, give a public lecture, and develop a policy digest on clean energy equity. Read more.

Student News

Sacha-Rose Phillips has completed her master’s thesis entitled, To Surveil or to Sustain: Perceptions of Smart Meters in Rural Jamaica. Her thesis explores perceptions of and experiences with smart technologies amongst rural households, policy makers and utility managers in Jamaica. Using the lens and principles of energy justice, the study explores how the use of smart meters may complicate, shift or transform users’ and regulators’ relationship with electricity as a commodity and its associated infrastructure. Particular focus is given to consumers who utilize illegal or informal means to gain access to electricity. She will earn master’s degrees in Environment and Sustainability and Public Policy.

Dominic Bednar received a Fulbright Award to study energy justice in Chile. Dominic, an Urban Energy Justice Lab member and PhD candidate in the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS), will to travel to Santiago, Chile, where he will study energy efficiency, energy poverty, and firewood use among residential areas. Bednar says Chile has some of the highest energy costs in Latin America, as well as among the highest per capita wood fuel consumption in the world. These present both energy and public health issues for the country’s population. Read more.

Karl Hoesch joins the Urban Energy Justice Lab. Karl is a new doctoral student in the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS), and Sustainability and a 2020 MPP graduate of the U-M Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Karl will study collaborative governance efforts and public-private-nonprofit partnerships to coordinate and increase equitable access to residential energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Tedd Moya Mose, a 2018 Urban Energy Justice Lab visiting scholar, recently completed his doctoral studies at Queen Mary University of London. Tedd has joined Oxford University Martin School as a Fellow on the Program Exploring Integrating Renewable Energy Technologies. Congratulations Dr. Mose! Read more.

Publication News

Dr. Reames published a new paper that combines national datasets that estimate rooftop solar potential, penetration, and socioeconomic and demographic characteristics to explore distributional disparities within and across four US cities- Riverside and San Bernardino, CA, Washington, DC, and Chicago, IL. The study finds higher rooftop solar potential is not always found in higher income communities. Also, higher rooftop solar potential does not necessarily translate to higher penetration, especially if higher potential was in LMI communities. The paper titled, Distributional disparities in residential rooftop solar potential and penetration in four cities in the United States was published in Energy Research and Social Science. Read more.

Shiva Rassi (’18) and Dr. Reames have published a new paper on the Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides energy efficiency upgrades for low-income households. The Michigan-based study examined program manager perceptions of challenges and opportunities implementing the program. The paper titled, “If we had a little more flexibility.” Perceptions of programmatic challenges and opportunities implementing government-funded low-income energy efficiency programs was published in Energy Policy. Read more.

Michael Zimmerman (’20) and Dr. Reames published a new paper exploring barriers and opportunities to renewable energy development on tribal lands. The study presents a comparative analysis framework exploring how barriers influenced two projects: the unsuccessful Rosebud Sioux North Antelope Highlands project and the ongoing Oceti Sakowin Power Authority (OSPA) project. The paper titled, Where the wind blows: Exploring barriers and opportunities to renewable energy development on United States tribal lands was published in Energy Research and Social Science. Read more.

Grant News

Reducing Energy Insecurity. Dr. Reames will lead a new National Science Foundation-funded project in partnership with several University of Michigan faculty and four Detroit community-based organizations to improve home energy efficiency and to lower monthly utility bills. Team members will work with around 200 low- and moderate-income (LMI) households in three Detroit neighborhoods—Jefferson Chalmers, Southwest Detroit and The Villages at Parkside. Read more.

Energy Equity Metrics Framework. Urban Energy Justice Lab will lead a new national collaborative research and outreach project to lay the groundwork for development of a standardized approach to collecting, reporting and tracking variables to improve equity in clean energy programs. The project is funded by Energy Foundation and Joyce Foundation. More information will follow when the project launches in early 2021.

Solar Equity. Urban Energy Justice Lab joins a new major research and outreach project with Clean Energy State’s Alliance (CESA) to explore Effective Knowledge Dissemination for LMI Solar: The Roles of CBOs and State Governments. The project is funded by the US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. The Nathan Cummings Foundation is also providing funding. The anticipated start is Spring 2021. Read more.

Other News

Call for Special Issue Papers: Redefining Resilience and Equity in the Time of Climate Change

Guest Editors: Jalonne L. White-Newsome and Tony Reames

The special issue will explore the innovation occurring in communities across the United States and abroad to address the root causes of climate injustice and fortify community resilience. Learn more.

All manuscripts should be submitted for consideration: February 28, 2021

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