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Engaging Twin Cities Communities in Energy

Published August 6, 2019

Helping individuals better understand their energy choices is a major part of CUB’s work.  Because it is a big task to share information, partnerships are critically important in spreading the word about existing programs and options.  Additionally, it’s important to always look for ideas to improve program offerings that will help individuals in a meaningful way.

In this spirit, CUB is part of an innovative project called the “Energy Efficiency Peer Learning Cohort.”  CUB is partnering with Community Power; Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy; the City of Minneapolis; the University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab; and a cohort of community-based organizations to increase knowledge about energy issues.  The project officially began this summer and will continue through next spring.

The focus of the program is to increase capacity of organizations who represent and work with black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC); low-income households; and renters in the Twin Cities.  When it comes to energy and environmental justice, these communities have historically borne the negative impacts of energy production and have had limited access the benefits of energy efficiency programs.  Polluting power plants are often sited in low-income and minority communities.  Most energy efficiency programs, which are funded through everyone’s utility bills, are geared towards homeowners.

The programs seek to both increase awareness of existing programs that increase energy efficiency and improve programs options that can serve these communities.  Specifically, the goals are to:

  1. Increase participation in existing energy efficiency programs for low-income and BIPOC residents in Minneapolis and Saint Paul through intentional and regenerative community outreach.
  2. Conduct an assessment of the current energy efficiency delivery structure to provide evidence-based recommendations to redesign energy efficiency programs and associated outreach methods.
  3. Collect information and data that will inform local leadership and the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) to better serve renters, BIPOC, and low-­income residents.
  4. Tackle urgent climate and community livability concerns simultaneously and support the development of the sectoral interconnections required for equitable systems change.

To meet these goals, the program includes a series of cohort meetings on topics ranging from understanding where and how our energy is generated; to understanding existing programs; to generating ideas of changes needed to better serve BIPOC, low-income and renter communities.  Additionally, public community workshops will be offered during the course of project to share information and collect ideas more broadly.  The first public workshop is planned for Saturday, September 14.  We will provide more details about this event soon.

We’ll be providing periodic updates on the project via this blog.  We’ll also keep you posted on all public events and hope that you’ll be able to participate!

This post was edited August 8 to correct the date of the public workshop.

Author: Carmen Carruthers

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