What is Energy Justice?

Energy injustice stems from structural racism. Those experiencing structural racism are more likely to live in older, energy inefficient homes and apartments. These conditions lead to increased energy costs and a decrease in basic comfort. In addition to higher utility costs, energy injustice affects the physical and mental health outcomes of those living in these conditions, which only makes escaping the cycle more difficult. 

Why Energy 350 Cares

Energy 350 recognizes that many residential utility energy efficiency programs are out of reach to those experiencing a high energy burden. Common barriers that keep folks from participating could be:

  • Unable to make initial purchase of energy efficient equipment, even with discount from utility
  • Installations require upgrades to structure or electrical or plumbing systems, increasing the cost of the installation and decreasing its cost effectiveness
  • Cost effectiveness is defined only by utility cost savings; health and safety outcomes are not quantified
  • Households that do not meet eligibility requirements are less likely to make upgrades without incentives or rebates
  • State and federal tax credits promoting solar and energy efficiency may not be beneficial to households with a low tax burden or that cannot afford the upfront investment

Much of our work involves delivering and evaluating utility energy efficiency programs. While we deeply value and believe in these programs, we recognize they are not fully equitable if we look at them through an energy justice lens. Utility programs, such as Energy Trust, are also working to address these issues.

What We Are Doing

Widespread, systematic change will require a unified legislative effort to transform the way energy is generated, transmitted, and delivered to homes. We are not claiming to be making a dent in this effort, although we are certainly here for it. Our No Justice, No Peace team has taken on a mutual aid effort locally here in Portland.

Taking Ownership PDX

We have partnered with Taking Ownership PDX to fund 100% of the installation of energy efficient heat pump hot water heaters in local Black-owned homes that have requested our help.

Heat pump hot water heaters are three times more efficient than typical electric hot water heaters, saving occupants $300 – $400 per year on their electric bills. Learn more here.

So far we have installed new energy efficient hot water heaters in five local Black-owned homes, and we expect to have installed a total of seven by the end of 2021. With this effort we aim to: remove the barriers present in traditional energy efficiency programs, reduce monthly electricity bills, provide reliable hot water, take a small step toward restorative justice, and, in the end, help out a neighbor!

Thank you to Energy 350 for your support in installing our new energy efficient water heater. We were thrilled when Randal at Taking Ownership contacted us about the opportunity. We are very appreciative to Energy 350 for your support in installing our new energy efficient water heater. This eased our load on the big on going project of our home renovations and Lisa at Energy 350 was a pleasure to project manage this with.

Nichola B.
new hot water heater for Nichola

There are several local Community-Based Organizations and nonprofits working on similar programs, like Community Energy Project and Hacienda, among others. We welcome suggestions and feedback at [email protected].