Empowering Communities: Connecting Value to Values

(Photo courtesy of Groundswell.)

For large energy buyers, renewable energy procurement is increasingly being utilized to drive not only financial and environmental, but also social impact. These projects can serve multiple roles: a long-term financial investment, a commitment to the climate, and a driver of social value. Alongside achieving goals including 100% renewable energy, 24/7 renewable energy, and Science-Based Targets, large buyers are incorporating climate justice as an important component of “next generation” renewable energy procurement. 

For communities, particularly those who are traditionally disadvantaged, renewable energy projects can be long-term investments in their economic future, from growing tax revenue, providing skilled jobs, and building multi-generational wealth. Access to renewable energy can increase the resiliency of local grid networks and provide tangible public health benefits. Human-induced warming attributes for 37% of heat-related deaths and people of color are disproportionally impacted by air pollution. Climate justice is not only a priority, but mandatory if we are to together achieve a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon energy future. 

This multi-faceted issue calls for a space for all stakeholders to collaborate for long-term, mutually advantageous benefits. A framework for such a forum was derived from conversations between corporates, local-change champions, and third-party organizations, facilitated by the Clean Energy Buyers Institute in partnership with Groundswell in early 2021. The Corporates and Communities Engagement Primer explores:

  • How can a company start the community engagement journey? 
  • What are the best and most equitable approaches to working with communities? 
  • What pathways exist to create mutual advantages for companies and communities?  
  • How do community partnerships differ from traditional procurement practices?

No one size fits all. The primer does not prescribe specific solutions but provides an educational and inspirational guide to spark and continue solution-oriented discussions, with additional linked resources to support all stakeholders to take concrete steps toward a shared zero-carbon future. The Corporate and Community Engagement Decision Framework is a step-by-step interactive companion tool to demonstrate how choices to engage communities early in the procurement process can generate mutual benefits. Both may be used in complement to create shared value and vision from renewable energy project ideation through implementation.

The Clean Energy Buyers Institute and Groundswell collaboratively developed the Corporate and Community Engagement Primer and the Corporate and Community Engagement Decision Framework. Read the primer and explore the tool at the Clean Energy Buyers Institute: Beyond the Megawatt. These resources are only the beginning. Let us know how well these tools are working for you. Have they helped you start a process, project, or sparked conversation with key internal or external stakeholders? Contact us at communications@reba-institute.org to share your progress and help us take this journey together. The Clean Energy Buyers Institute, along with partners including Groundswell, will continue to work to help large buyers go Beyond the Megawatt.

1 https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/beyond-the-ppa-quest-for-24-7-carbon-free-power-is-reshaping-energy-buying-64195343
2 https://www.greenbiz.com/article/inside-salesforces-bold-play-supply-chain-leadership
3 https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210513005242/en/
4 https://corporate.target.com/article/2021/06/target-forward
5 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-021-01058-x
6 https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/18/eabf4491
7 https://groundswell-web-assets.s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/working-wisdom/WW_Summary_Formatted.pdf