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What’s at stake?

Energy is among the largest sources of man-made climate pollution in the world. Low income and frontline communities are directly impacted by energy systems, but their voices are seldom included in technical proceedings where decisions are made about their energy sources and costs.

The transition to a clean energy future needs to proceed urgently, at a massive scale, to make a difference against climate change and the quality of life in these communities.

About the Issues
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Team building

Our Approach

Working closely with partners and community members, we can change the way energy regulators get information and, therefore, how huge energy decisions are made. Our approach will enable the voices of people affected by utility actions to be considered as evidence in utility rate cases.

We are in a unique window of opportunity as clean energy is affordable and widely available and the Inflation Reduction Act offers historic investment in the transition to clean energy.

Project Team

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Naomi Davis

Founder & CEO, Blacks in Green

Founder & CEO of Blacks in Green

Naomi is the visionary behind BIG’s Sustainable Square Mile initiative. She is the proud granddaughter of Mississippi sharecroppers who – like 7 million others – voted with their feet and moved “UpSouth” for freedom and economic opportunity during the Great Migration. Naomi believes Black communities can thrive by recreating the walkable villages of the Great Migration era, while also embracing the transition to a clean energy economy.

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Jenny Freeman

Senior Manager, Climate Legal Impact and Partnerships, Environmental Defense Fund

Senior Manager, Climate Legal Impact and Partnerships

Jennifer plays an essential role on the Legal and Regulatory team ensuring that key audiences understand, support and participate in achieving strategies and objectives, expanding EDF’s capacity to achieve policy goals and drive impact.

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Khadeya Penson

Attorney, Beyond Gas, Environmental Defense Fund

Attorney, Beyond Gas

Khadeya is an attorney with experience in energy utility regulation, environmental justice, and criminal law. In her work with EDF’s energy markets and utility regulation team, Khadeya helps to ensure that public utility plans, programs and investments are aligned with climate and energy justice goals.

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Curt Stokes

Senior Attorney, Environmental Defense Fund

Curt Stokes is a Senior Attorney who represents Environmental Defense Fund before public utility commissions. He fights for more just, equitable, and transparent processes that give everyone a voice in the energy decisions that affect their environment, health, and community.
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Tanya Paslawski

Founder, Elevated Engagement

Tanya focuses her work on advocacy for procedural justice in utility regulatory proceedings to amplify the voices of frontline communities and those living with poverty on energy issues. She has helped develop and deliver training on energy industry basics and supported community members in the process of sharing their stories and wisdom through expert testimony.
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Lavannya Pulluveetil Barrera

Independent Consultant

Lavannya collaborates with climate and environmental justice leaders to amplify the solutions and insights of frontline communities. Her work aims to create more inclusive engagement processes and, as a result, more equitable and just policies. Throughout her career, she has developed curricula and community engagement plans for organizations nationwide.
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Jolette Westbrook

Director and Senior Attorney, Utility Markets and Regulations, Environmental Defense Fund

Director and Senior Attorney, Utility Markets and Regulations

Jolette, a former Public Utility Commissioner, leads efforts to improve and reform wholesale energy markets. She also works to advance EDF’s energy objectives before state public utility commissions. Jolette is co-author of a series of reports with the Massachusetts Attorney General and other stakeholders on recommendations for how to improve equity, inclusivity, and transparency in state energy agency processes and decisions.

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Christie Hicks

Founder Emeritus, Community Voices in Energy

Former Lead Counsel, EDF Energy Markets and Utility Regulation

Christie’s work at EDF focused on reducing reliance on natural gas, and fostering markets and regulatory structures that allow clean energy resources to flourish, avoiding over-investment in unnecessary gas infrastructure and reducing emissions from gas transmission and distribution systems. Christie pioneered techniques for enabling community expert testimony to be considered in rate cases alongside technical expert testimony. The Community Voices is Energy website was Christie's brainchild.