Skip to main content

National Training | Sign up by February 20th

Ryan O’Donnell

Community Expert Testimony

Ryan O’Donnell

O’Donnell testified that what he has not seen from ComEd is evidence of how it will use CEJA to make equitable grid investments for everyone. He called for a move toward energy sovereignty, a shift in ComEd’s focus away from simply building out wires and supporting structures and toward empowering customers to put their own energy solutions into effect. In addition, he called for accountability via data transparency. ComEd should provide ways for customers, journalists, and social justice organizations to analyze data to find and address disparities in service and other inequities.

O’Donnell recommended that the Illinois Commerce Commission consider energy sovereignty and accessibility to jobs and data at the top of its considerations in deciding whether ComEd’s grid plan is equitable. All communities should share equitably in benefits flowing from grid investments, and ComEd should hire contractors from all communities, while giving the traditionally marginalized opportunities for advancement, even if that means additional investments in training.

Are you interested in testifying in a utility rate case?
Become a certified energy justice intervenor.

More Testimonies

Microphone in a court room
Technical Expert Testimony

Andrew Barbeau

Technical expert Andrew Barbeau testified that ComEd’s proposal to use system-wide metrics to measure reliability disadvantages the residents of more vulnerable frontline communities. Instead, the needs of these communities must be front and center in the utility’s plans.
Microphone in a court room
Community Expert Testimony

Gregory Norris

Community expert Gregory Norris, founder of an environmental justice organization, testified that lack of affordable energy has an outsized impact on Black and brown neighborhoods. Solutions will only be implemented justly if there is intention and accountability. ComEd can use tenets of energy justice to guide grid planning.
Microphone in a court room
Community Expert Testimony

Kelly McCleary

Community expert Kelly McCleary testified that higher rates can lead to a cascade of problems. The higher rates get, the fewer customers will be able to afford to invest in clean energy, including energy efficiency, and save in the future. Utilities should invest in making the grid more ready for renewable energy, not just user rate hikes to garner higher profits for shareholders.
Microphone in a court room
Community Expert Testimony

Ryan O’Donnell

Community expert Ryan O'Donnell testified that communities should have energy sovereignty, meaning some degree of ownership over the means of energy production. Benefits of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) should be visible, making the system more fair and balanced environmentally and economically.
Microphone in a court room
Community Expert Testimony

Cheryl Watson

Community expert Cheryl Watson testified that utility policies contribute to and exacerbate cumulative burdens to disadvantaged communities and must be changed. Utilities need to be more holistic and community centered, planning with the community, not for them.
Microphone in a court room
Technical Expert Testimony

Justin Schott

Technical expert Justin Schott testified that Peoples Gas’ disconnection and late fee practices and qualifications for low-income discounts are placing undue energy burdens on BIPOC communities.
Microphone in a court room
Technical Expert Testimony

Chris Neme

Technical expert Chris Neme testified that transitioning single-family homes from gas furnaces to electricity is cost-effective for the average homeowner in Peoples Gas service territory.
Microphone in a court room
Technical Expert Testimony

Dr. Guillermo Pereira

Technical expert Guillermo Pereira testified that ComEd must create a detailed framework to track and report on how proposed benefits would reach households, to comply with the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act.
Pipeline running through agricultural area
Media Article

Legitimizing Situated Knowledge in Rural Communities Through Storytelling Around Gas Pipelines and Environmental Risk

A scholarly article from the November 2021 issue of Technical Communication, demonstrates that rural landowners and community members’ place-based knowledge is expertise that should be considered by technical communication professionals.
Energy Democracy 101 training featured image
Press Release

New Website Helps People Have a Voice in Energy Decisions That Affect Their Lives, Communities

Environmental Defense Fund and Blacks in Green have launched a new website that will help people around the country get involved in decisions about energy for their communities. The website, Community Voices in Energy, gives people tools to participate in energy decision making so they can  protect their health, environment and money. These tools work with other planks of the partners’ Campaign To End Energy Poverty, which is designed to help make energy more affordable for all. The American standard is that light and heat cost about six percent of household income, but some low-income and frontline communities pay 20 percent or more. “Everyone should have a voice in creating our clean energy future and economic participation in the benefits. For that to happen, they need the ability to help shape decisions about the energy systems they rely on,” said Naomi Davis, founder and CEO of Blacks in Green and organizer of the campaign. “Our website is designed to help demystify the processes used by public utilities commissions and give people the tools they need to overcome participation hurdles.” The energy sector is one of the largest sources of climate pollution in the U.S., yet few people know how to get involved and influence the decisions public utility regulators make to govern gas and electric companies. Low-income and frontline communities often face more consequences from energy decisions than anyone else. Communities located near polluting power plants suffer from higher than average rates asthma and other lung diseases, lower property values, and worse air quality. At the same time, utilities have historically invested more in wealthier neighborhoods – so low-income communities can face more blackouts, slower repairs and less reliable service even while paying high and rising energy rates. Community Voices in Energy provides resources to help people learn about energy issues in their area, a toolkit to help them get involved, and training to help them provide expert testimony that brings community interests into public utility hearings. “A more just and equitable energy system is within reach, said Christie Hicks, EDF Senior Director for Equitable Regulatory Solutions. “When more people get involved in the process, it will change the information that regulators have – and that will change the way big decisions about energy are made. We hope this website will help utility regulators make rulings that lead to a more equitable, healthy and affordable energy future for all.”
AnnouncementFeatured

National Training Cohort to Begin in March: Please sign up before February 20 deadline

Community Voices in Energy will soon launch a new national training cohort designed to prepare participants to address energy justice issues and make change through energy regulatory cases that affect their communities. Over the course of about eight bi-weekly virtual trainings, we will address and demystify traditional legal intervention in public utility commission proceedings. The program will also broadly present how individuals can bring about a more just and affordable energy system through policy advocacy, organizing, and education. Visiting speakers will share insights from last year’s amazing successes in Illinois. At the end of the program, after participants have completed an Energy Justice Intervenor Project, Community Voices in Energy will provide certification that you have learned about navigating and influencing the energy regulatory system. Please sign up here to commit to this exciting energy justice group learning opportunity.  
34 states have climate equity policies in place as of 2023
Blog

EDF’s new equity map shows state efforts to make the energy transition fairer for all

Across the U.S. states are passing laws that will ensure greater equity as we transition to a clean energy system. EDF has developed an interactive map – based on our new report, the State Climate Equity Survey – that documents states’ efforts to make their energy transition more equitable and healthier. Our new map identifies which states require, allow, or promote consideration of equity and environmental justice in agency decision-making and budget-setting.