Image: NREL/Dennis Schroeder
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced its environmental justice priorities through a new policy platform that will support the organization’s advocacy efforts.
The platform outlines principles for engagement, as well as environmental justice outcomes and policies that the organization will support to “expand equitable access” to solar energy and its benefits.
The document lays out policies that expand access to clean energy and create industry jobs and workforce development training. It includes possible tax, climate, energy access, and labor policies that build on what the organization said is its “ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice” across the solar value chain.
“Equity and environmental justice are core values for the solar + storage industry,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “If we want to build an equitable clean energy economy, we need to be intentional about our advocacy.”
The platform, released as the Solar Industry Policy Principles on Environmental Justice & Equity, includes input from members, diversity professionals, policy experts, and conversations with numerous environmental justice organizations and experts.
The policy platform includes the following areas:
Utilizing solar to expand access to low-cost clean energy;
Providing career pathways to underserved communities;
Leveraging government procurement and infrastructure to create economic opportunity for low-income communities;
Tax policies and programs that remove barriers to access financing for rooftop solar;
Climate resilience and disaster preparedness programs that include onsite solar, storage, other electricity resilience measures;
Siting and permitting processes for large-scale renewable energy projects that are conducted in consultation with impacted communities;
lean energy curricula for K-12, trade/technical/vocational schools, community colleges, and higher education, with an emphasis on HBCUs, tribal colleges and other minority-serving institutions; and
Fostering environmental justice expertise in agencies with jurisdiction over energy, climate and environmental policy.
The platform will be a “living document” that SEIA said it will continually review and revisit as the industry evolves and develops new financing mechanisms or policy tools that expand solar accessibility and workforce programs.
The policy platform was initiated by SEIA’s board-level task force on diversity, the DEIJ Leadership Council, which is designed to catalyze further action on SEIA’s diversity work.
Over the coming months, SEIA said it will release a supplier diversity database and a diversity certification program for the solar + storage industry.