SEIA adds environmental justice to core advocacy efforts

SEIA has 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 SEIA’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice throughout the solar value chain.

“Equity and environmental justice are core values for the solar + storage industry,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “If we want to build an equitable clean energy economy, we need to be intentional about our advocacy. Environmental justice leaders have given us a clear roadmap, and now it’s our turn to follow it and advocate for the policies that support frontline communities. SEIA is committed to this work and will continue to be a leading voice for these important issues in the halls of Congress and state capitols across the country.”

The resulting platform, released formally 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.

SEIA is committed to leveraging its resources to support frontline communities. This work must be done alongside meaningful engagement with environmental justice organizations and impacted communities. The principles set communication expectations for the organization and its members on DEIJ advocacy and establish the importance of measurability so that the solar + storage industry can better understand the efficacy and reach of these policies.

“Centering equity in workforce development policy is crucial to growing a sustainable and just clean energy future,” said Erika Symmonds, VP of workforce development and service-learning at GRID Alternatives. “We are looking forward to the policy platform’s implementation and its on-going adjustments informed by environmental and economic justice leaders.”

Over the coming weeks, SEIA will work with its state and federal policy teams, members and expansive network of state and regional partners to implement both the principles and policy platform.

The policy platform focuses on 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;
  • Clean 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 will continually review and revisit as the industry evolves and develops new financing mechanisms or policy tools that expand solar accessibility and workforce programs.

This 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 will be releasing a supplier diversity database and a first-of-its-kind diversity certification program for the solar + storage industry.

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