On behalf of the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI), welcome to Energy Democracy for All.

The seeds of our Energy Democracy program started with our work in rural South Carolina.  In 2004, we began working with rural communities in the region to ensure that growth in Columbia, South Carolina does not leave them behind. Coming out of this work, we released in 2008 a report Growing Together: Thriving People for a Thriving Columbia that highlights the shocking disparities in the region between wealthy suburbs and poor rural communities that lack basic services like water and sewer lines.  These disparities, the report shows, often fell along racial lines.

Growing Together Cover

The report also shows how investment in these rural communities, particularly rural communities of color, could benefit the region as a whole.  The report finds that the farmlands in Columbia, mostly Black-owned, could be a tremendous resource that would benefit the entire region through organic farming and geothermal energy.  Not only would this promote equity, but it would benefit all residents in the region.

This idea was the seed for our Energy Democracy work.  Read more.

At its heart, Energy Democracy is about linking communities – in this case, Black landowners in Columbia, South Carolina whose needs regional development plans ignored – with opportunities to invest in their economic well-being while addressing climate change. Energy Democracy is about uprooting the idea that we are just consumers of energy. We can also be participants, decision-makers and owners in a new energy economy.  

This is bigger than Columbia, South Carolina.  This is about all of us.

A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report shows that countries must take action now to curb the worst impacts of climate change.  We’ve already seen our first case of climate change refugees from Papua New Guinea.  And here in the United States, people are still feeling the aftereffects of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.  With Congress failing to act, we can all expect to see more extreme weather and more communities impacted.  And we’ll see our most vulnerable communities, which are often communities of color, unable to fully recover.

We are  launching Energy Democracy for All to show that there is a path forward. People are taking matters into their own hands, for their communities and for the environment.  This map highlights these projects, including projects by and for communities of color – communities which will soon comprise the majority in the United States.  Learn more about the map.

Here’s how you can use the map:

  • Explore the map to see how community-scale renewable energy projects are happening in your area.
  • Connect with projects in your area.
  • Learn how you can plant the seeds for a community-scale renewable energy project in your community.

Please share this map with friends, family and colleagues.  If you use Twitter, please use #energydemocracy