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Survey on Community Benefits and an Overview of Community Benefits Plans and Agreements

November 29, 2023 Category: Climate, Implementation, Infrastructure, Policy

As the United States transitions towards a clean energy economy, there is a growing federal commitment to ensure a more equitable distribution of the economic benefits from clean energy project development, and more effective integration of community perspectives into project siting and construction. However, even with the best of intentions, authentic community engagement can be difficult to achieve, and economic benefits do not easily flow to those facing structural barriers to success.

Over the past two years, the Climate Equity Initiative at Clean Air Task Force (CATF) and BW Research (BW) have conducted immersive research and engagement in communities facing deep-rooted environmental and economic justice challenges. Our goal has been to surface how these communities prioritize the types of benefits that can meet their needs, be they environmental, economic, or health-related, and how the transition to clean energy can be supportive of those goals.

Alongside this research, CATF’s Climate Equity Initiative and BW have extensively studied a new federal policy, the Community Benefits Plan (CBP), that has potentially transformative impacts, but is still in an early stage of implementation. The CBP, which is now required on most applications for U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) federal funding, encourages developers to analyze the impacts of their projects on workers, affected communities, and other stakeholders, and then commit to specific strategies that benefit those communities and workers.

Our goal in presenting these reports side-by-side is to highlight how what community members told us fits into the CBP framework for clean energy development. In doing so, this research points towards new pathways and approaches that better align the necessity of rapid clean energy deployment with place-based strategies and commitments to communities and workers across the country.

Watch: Webinar launch of these reports and survey results with Jeanette Pablo, Director of the Climate Equity Initiative, Clean Air Task Force; Kara Hoving, Climate Equity Associate, Clean Air Task Force; Montina Cole, Principal, Jai Green Consulting LLC; Daniel Cardenas, CEO, Learning River and CEO and Founder, Seven Generations Energy LLC; Christina Angelides, Managing Director, Policy at Elemental Excelerator; Philip Jordan, Vice President, BW Research; and Cai Steger, Director of Policy Research, BW Research