Energy & Climate Equity
NYSERDA’s Commitment to an Inclusive Clean Energy Economy
NYSERDA recognizes the role that public policy has played in perpetuating inequities faced by historically marginalized communities, while working to leverage its critical role in addressing the climate crisis, energy injustice, and the legacy of environmental racism.
Under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act), New York State is transitioning to an inclusive clean energy economy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, addresses systemic inequities, and expands economic opportunity for all New Yorkers. NYSERDA is committed to advancing energy and climate justice through investments in our economy and workforce that address historic inequities and improve health and resilience for all New Yorkers, especially historically marginalized communities.
NYSERDA is transforming its approach to meet New York State’s ambitious climate and equity goals. Specifically, NYSERDA is working to address the challenges historically marginalized communities have faced in accessing programs and using their lived experience to inform solutions that support an inclusive clean energy transition. With the creation of an Energy & Climate Equity team, NYSERDA is working to conduct more equitable, meaningful, and diverse community engagement. This will ensure historically marginalized communities are front and center in the decisions that impact their everyday lives. By working with community stakeholders to create pathways for meaningful input to shape energy policies and programs, NYSERDA will ensure historically marginalized communities are essential partners and beneficiaries in the transition to a clean energy economy.
Below are available resources related to the Climate Act:
- Climate Action Council Draft Scoping Plan
- Disadvantaged Communities Draft Criteria
- Disadvantaged Communities Barriers and Opportunities Report [PDF]
Equitable Community Engagement
NYSERDA is transforming the way we engage with historically marginalized communities by:
Developing equitable community engagement initiatives
NYSERDA is focused on shifting to initiatives that allow for deeper, more coordinated engagement and collaboration with historically marginalized communities around program planning and policy development. Equitable engagement initiatives include:
- Regional Clean Energy Hubs
- Energy Equity Collaborative
- Disadvantaged Community Stakeholder Services Pool
Integrating equity into internal operations
- The Energy Equity Stewardship Network is a peer-to-peer learning network within NYSERDA to provide staff with tools and resources to better understand equity issues and incorporate equity considerations into program and policy design.
- NYSERDA created an Energy & Climate Equity Team to serve as an internal resource to provide staff with support to conduct meaningful community outreach and integrate community engagement tools into their program design, development, and improvement.
- NYSERDA’s equitable program efforts complement NYSERDA's Diversity Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan which is focused on building a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture within the organization.
Equitable Engagement Initiatives
Regional Clean Energy Hubs
The Regional Clean Energy Hubs will provide a holistic approach for meeting the energy and climate justice needs of the communities throughout New York State. They will do this by supporting outreach and education at the local level and partnerships within their region from across various sectors including clean energy, social service, housing, economic development, health, and academics. A Hub will be established in regions across the State, except for the New York City region which will have three hubs. The Hubs are anticipated to launch in the summer of 2022.
Energy Equity Collaborative
The Energy Equity Collaborative provides a shared space for collaboration between those that serve and represent historically marginalized communities and NYSERDA, along with other State agencies and Authorities, as needed.
The Energy Equity Collaborative will be established in 2022. It will provide a coordinated forum for disadvantaged community groups and NYSERDA to discuss and work together to address energy equity and climate justice issues and design equitable programs. The group will provide recommendations to NYSERDA on issues related to environmental justice, workforce development, energy affordability, and clean energy for under-resourced communities. With NYSERDA’s support, the Collaborative will host public meetings and create working groups for sector-specific issues. This will happen in partnership with on-the-ground organizations that principally serve or represent historically marginalized communities. The Collaborative will host a network of organizations that help ensure the experiences and needs of under-resourced and historically marginalized communities are front and center in decision-making and program planning. The Collaborative will also be available for other New York State agencies, including members of the interagency Low-Income Energy Task Force, to engage with communities and work in coordination with NYSERDA.
Benefits of participating in the Collaborative
Organizations representing historically marginalized communities who participate in the Collaborative can:
- Directly inform and influence clean energy programs and policy–especially during the critical early stages of program development–to ensure community needs are met and communities receive a fair and equitable share of the benefits from clean energy investments
- Save time by utilizing a central platform to connect with multiple program teams and executives at NYSERDA and the interagency Low-Income Energy Task Force (LIETF)
- Help ensure transparency and accountability of NYSERDA and other LIETF member agencies through public meetings and documentation of how program feedback gets implemented
Interested to help organize the Energy Equity Collaborative?
Apply online NYSERDA is inviting applications from organizations interested in being considered for the Energy Equity Collaborative’s Founding Steering Committee. All community-based organizations that can demonstrate a primary mission of service to disadvantaged communities are welcome to apply for this one-year, paid appointment.
This Founding Steering Committee will establish the process for organizations to become members in the Collaborative, identify priorities, and determine how Collaborative members will elect the Steering Committee in 2023 and beyond.
While it is challenging to be representative of all communities across the state, the goal is that the Founding Steering Committee be reflective of the diverse communities facing unique barriers and opportunities related to the intersection of energy and environmental justice, workforce development, housing affordability, climate resilience, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.
NYSERDA will use the Founding Steering Committee Selection Criteria [PDF], developed in collaboration with community stakeholders, as a guide for selecting Founding Steering Committee members. Founding Steering Committee members will be selected by a group of reviewers composed of unconflicted individuals from non-governmental and community-based organizations, along with governmental (including NYSERDA) staff reviewers. In subsequent years, a Steering Committee will be selected by the Energy Equity Collaborative membership based on the governance structure and selection process developed by the Founding Steering Committee. Preference will be given to organizations that meet as many of the selection criteria as possible. If multiple organizations from the same coalition apply, we may ask the coalition to select one representative to serve on the Founding Steering Committee.
Steering Committee in subsequent years
In subsequent years, a Steering Committee will be selected based on the charter developed by the founding Steering Committee which may entail soliciting additional input from the larger Equity Collaborative membership body. Founding Steering Committee members will:
- Directly interface with NYSERDA leadership and staff on emerging issues
- Coordinate, as needed, with other participating interagency partners, co-manage the Equity Collaborative working groups, and ensure statewide participation of frontline communities in the broader Equity Collaborative body
- Be comprised of frontline community groups and other stakeholders that serve and represent historically marginalized communities
- Work on a wide array of energy and climate equity issues across New York State
Paying for Community Expertise
NYSERDA is paying community stakeholders for their contributions to NYSERDA program planning.
The lived experiences and expertise of historically marginalized communities need to be front and center in the development of programs and policies that impact their daily lives. This includes hard to reach, underserved rural communities, Indigenous Nations, and other areas of the State with high levels of poverty and limited access to resources. NYSERDA is working to broaden our reach and hear from those on the frontlines of the climate crisis. We recognize that community stakeholders need to be compensated for their valuable time and contributions when informing NYSERDA’s policies and programs.
In response, NYSERDA has established two ways for community-based organizations serving or representing disadvantaged communities to be compensated for time dedicated to informing NYSERDA initiatives. One of the ways described below—specifically, the honorarium—is available to support participation by individuals as well.
Disadvantaged Communities (DAC) Stakeholder Services Pool (RFQL 4922)
NYSERDA is issuing this Request for Qualifications to establish a group, or “pool,” of qualified community-based organizations that represent New York State’s disadvantaged communities. Organizations qualified under this RFQL will then be available to work with NYSERDA staff through a variety of paid services. Organizations will assist with helping NYSERDA address DAC barriers to participation and inform how DACs can receive a greater share of the benefits from clean energy investments and programs. This includes providing advice and input on programs and policies, facilitating community outreach and engagement, and participating in working groups organized by NYSERDA around various sectors and program areas. These could include, but are not limited to: solar energy, workforce development, affordable housing decarbonization, clean transportation, and large-scale renewable deployment. Assistance may also be requested to design new programs or improve Authority-wide initiatives.
The pool may include individual nonprofits, coalitions, and for-profit firms based in and with a substantial connection to those residing in New York State’s disadvantaged communities. To be qualified for the pool, organizations must demonstrate accountability to residents of their communities. Organizations will provide guidance to NYSERDA related to program development and investments that would benefit those communities.
More information about how organizations can join the pool can be found on the NYSERDA solicitation detail portal page.
Disadvantaged Communities (DAC) Honorarium
An honorarium is available to pay individuals and community-based organizations invited by NYSERDA to participate in meetings or other immediate, short-term, or ad hoc needs and services. The Honorarium will allow NYSERDA to compensate for the perspectives and lived experiences of individuals or organizations that serve DACs to inform NYSERDA and related program and policy planning.
NY Energy Advisor
NYSERDA and New York State utilities developed the New York Energy Advisor website , a one-stop shop site to help low-to moderate income New Yorkers get access to personalized energy savings programs. The site provides easy and efficient access to energy programs and services, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy education materials, that are available to New Yorkers based on individual eligibility criteria without searching for assistance on multiple websites. It also serves affordable property owners and managers by providing access to information on energy efficiency programs and services that may benefit their properties.
Sign up for the Energy Equity & Climate Justice Digest email list. The digest includes information about NYSERDA’s initiatives, program announcements, and updates related to advancing a just and inclusive clean energy economy.
Do you have any questions, feedback or would like to learn more about NYSERDA’s energy equity and climate justice initiatives? Email us at [email protected].