Energy Equity advocates and researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are building a body of work surrounding equity in the power system.
Advancing Energy Equity in Grid Planning
Traditionally electric grid planning strives to maintain safe, reliable, efficient, and affordable service for current and future customers. As policies, social preferences, and the threat landscape evolve, additional considerations for power system planners are emerging, including decarbonization, resilience, and energy equity and justice. Relative to traditional objectives, these emerging objectives are not well integrated into grid planning paradigms. View presentation slides.
Communities in Energy Transition
Exploring best practices and decision support tools to provide equitable outcome
The U.S. coal industry has been in a state of decline for the past decade, a trend ushered by flat electricity demand, increased regulatory pressure, and market competition from cost-competitive clean energy sources. The receding economic viability of the coal industry has been acutely felt by the communities with immediate economic ties to coal-fired generation. With the energy transition underway, the question of how to engage communities as stakeholders in the decision-making process and address their needs through an equitable and just transition remains unresolved. To that end, this paper explores the economic, environmental, and social challenges presented by the energy transition at the community level, highlighting four case studies from transitioning coal-dependent communities across the United States to ultimately identify best practices in coal plant decommissioning processes. This paper weaves these community identified best practices into two support tools—a decommissioning checklist and a redevelopment decision-making framework—that can be used to engage communities in the power plant retirement decision, the site reclamation phase, and eventual redevelopment of the site and revitalization of the surrounding community. Read the paper now.
Review of Energy Equity Metrics
In October, PNNL published a literature review to support efforts to develop an energy equity metrics framework. PNNL reviewed the available literature, surveyed work in progress on the topic, and solicited expert feedback to lay the groundwork for metrics development and provide reference material for energy equity research and development applications. This literature review identified three distinct equity metric types: target population identification, investment decision making, and program impact assessment. Read the literature review now.
Energy Storage and Power Plant Decommissioning
The report examines three fossil-fuel power plant decommissioning strategies to assess the role of energy storage in enabling an equitable clean energy transition future. The analysis showed how storage could enable reduction of fossil-fuel sources from the grid while enabling increased renewable energy integration into the electric grid. The report also offers recommendations for future work, including the need to further develop the non-energy benefit attributes of energy storage systems with a focus on the benefits accrued to local communities. Read the report.
FERC Workshop Summary Report
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory supported a public workshop for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Office of Public Participation. The purpose of the workshop was to engage interested parties in potential technical assistance associated with electricity market proceedings. This memo includes all materials that were submitted into the FERC record and offers a brief summary of opportunities related to technical assistance. Read the summary report now.
Coal-dependent Communities in Transition: Identifying Best Practices to Ensure Equitable Outcomes
This report examined the role of communities in the coal power plant decommissioning process and provided community-identified best practices to ensure an equitable process. The experiences of four coal-dependent communities—Wise County, VA, Muskegon, MI, Anderson County, TN, and Becker, MN—are presented as case studies to understand the impacts of the decommissioning process, and associated best practices, from the communities’ perspective. The report results highlight the need to recognize that the decommissioning decision-making process must be community-based to be equitable. Read the report now.
Business Models for Coal Plant Decommissioning
Aging coal-fired power plants are retiring across the United States. Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory studied coal-fired power plant decommissioning business models to support program development for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) to engage with communities affected by power plant retirement processes. Evaluating and reducing the impact on coal-dependent communities from phasing out coal production is a crucial piece of nationwide economic development and community-directed engagement in the clean energy future. Read the report now.
Energy Storage for Social Equity Roundtable Pre-Readers and Roundtable Report
In support of the Office of Electricity Energy Storage program, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), hosted a roundtable to explore the relationship between energy equity and energy storage. These pre-readers were developed as resources for event attendees:
- Energy Storage as an Equity Asset
- Community Energy Storage Memo
- Metrics for Energy Equity
- Energy Storage for Social Equity Case Study
Download the Final Roundtable Report now.
Energy Equity and Environmental Justice Workshop Report
On December 11, 2020, 28 PNNL staff members discussed research to advance energy equity and environmental justice at a two-hour internal workshop. The primary purposes of the workshop were to baseline existing efforts at the laboratory and brainstorm future research activities. The workshop report documents the conversation, outcomes, and next steps. Read the report now.
Energy Storage as an Equity Asset
Energy storage is a key enabler to the widespread adoption of renewable energy, transmission, and distribution demands in the power grid. Not surprisingly, it also has the potential to greatly contribute to a power grid that is not only decarbonized and resilient, but also equitable and just. A just energy transition means giving justice and equity due consideration during the transition from fossil fuels to a grid that is largely powered by renewable energy sources, and ensuring that benefits are distributed equitably. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity – Energy Storage sponsored Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to conduct a comprehensive review of how energy storage deployment can advance equitable outcomes for the power system. The paper describes the four tenets of energy justice – distributive, recognition, procedural, and restorative – and how they can inform the equity dimensions of storage project design and implementation. Read the report now.
Electricity Rate Affordability
Mapping electricity rate affordability metrics can shed light on potential inequities and cost burdens that often disproportionately impact underserved communities. Affordability is defined as the ability to provide electric services at a cost that does not exceed customers’ willingness or ability to pay for these services. As part of Grid Modernization Lab Consortium (GMLC), researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, created a tool that compiles publicly available data and displays electricity rate affordability metrics at both the state and county level. GMLC released a report defining and describing metrics that measure the impact of electricity costs on residential and commercial customers. Read the report now.