“Listen to Communities”: Energy Justice Major Focus of New Telecommunications Industry Clean Energy Report

Technician in a solar field

Report Covers the Disproportionate Fossil Fuel Damage to Marginalized Communities, Identifies Requirements Companies Should Adopt to Address Inequity as Shift to Renewables Continues.

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 17, 2022 – Energy equity is at the center of a new report calling on major U.S. telecommunications companies to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2025. The report titled Calling for a Just, Clean Transition features the voices of leading experts in the energy justice movement and builds on previous versions of Green America’s Clean Energy Calling reports, which analyze renewable energy use and greenhouse gas emissions of the main U.S. telecoms operators.

The report was developed by Green America and Silleck Consulting Services, LLC and will be released as a two-part series. Part one (released today) details the disproportionate damage inflicted by fossil fuels on marginalized communities and delves into the goals of the energy justice movement. Part two (set to release in spring 2022) will analyze the status of clean energy deployment by the major telecoms companies and assess their energy procurement on key elements of energy justice.

Olivia Nedd, policy director, Access & Equity Program at Vote Solar, said in the report: “Sometimes those of us in the clean energy transition movement become so focused on deploying megawatts that we don’t stop to think about who is benefitting. Who has access to the technical assistance, lawyers, modeling experts? How are these decisions being co-created (or not) with impacted communities? The connection between what people are asking for and the policies being discussed just doesn’t exist.”

Lead report author Elizabeth Silleck La Rue said: “The inextricable connection between social oppression and environmental degradation means a solution for either must tackle both. In fact, the intersections between racism, sexism, classism, fossil fuel production, environmental degradation, health and climate change are firmly entrenched, and artificial compartmentalization creates gaps and delays that we cannot afford. A clean energy movement that does not proactively correct inequitable distribution of its costs and benefits is failing to fully live up to its promise.”

In addition to providing overviews of the climate crisis, economics of renewable energy, impacts of the fossil fuel industry on Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities, and how the telecommunications industry fits into the picture, the report also includes:

  • Voices from the energy justice movement in case studies highlighting professionals working on the front lines to advance equitable, clean energy initiatives.
  • A list of social and environmental justice criteria for companies to include in clean energy contracts to assess the extent to which electric power production aims to rectify racial, gender, and other inequities resulting from energy production and within the energy sector, reduce environmental harms and support workers’ rights.
  • Calls to raise the bar for energy companies seeking reputations as corporate stewards and to shine a bright light on energy equity issues, so energy producers are compelled to prioritize them.

Beth Porter, climate campaigns director at Green America, said: “The main theme of this report is simple: Listen to communities. Frontline and environmental justice communities are too often excluded from the decision-making processes that directly impact them. In order for companies like the telecoms to support energy justice, they must begin by learning from and incorporating impacted communities’ needs and guidance into their practices.”

Chandra Farley, founder of the Good Energy Project, said in the report: “Ask [communities] what they need!” In the report, Farley illustrates the imperative of community consultation by discussing a case study related to project siting: “We looked at the map and saw what appeared to be a great site for a resilience hub. After speaking with the community, we learned our assumptions were off. Without listening to the community, the project team wouldn’t have had the benefit of knowledge that comes with lived experience, which is necessary to create tangible community benefits.”

Because third-party contractors are used to help undertake clean energy projects, the report compiles a criteria list which telecommunications companies should adopt when they issue Requests for Proposals (RFPs). The list takes into account energy justice issues across four categories:

  1. Communities
  2. Economic Opportunities
  3. Worker Justice
  4. Environmental and Local Ecosystem Protection

Coming in Spring 2022, part two of the Calling for a Just, Clean Transition report will assess the major telecommunications companies’ (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile) progress towards clean energy, energy justice, and the extent to which the electricity they purchase is generated by companies leading (or lagging) on selected energy justice markers. In order to address climate change and promote equity, all three companies need to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2025 and need to do so in a way that centers benefits to workers/business owners in disinvested communities, including those most harmed by fossil fuels.



Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses, investors, and consumers to solve today’s social and environmental problems. http://www.GreenAmerica.org 

MEDIA CONTACT: Max Karlin for Green America, (703) 276-3255, or mkarlin@hastingsgroup.com.