One way to increase clean energy in your community is to organize support for a CLEAN program (similar to a feed-in tariff, a policy which has been very successful in many countries). A Clean Local Energy Accessible Now (CLEAN) Program makes it easy for community members to generate and sell renewable energy to their local utility. These programs result in a broad range of benefits for communities:
- Energy Independence - Communities can increase energy self-reliance and sustainability by purchasing clean local energy instead of energy from central power plants that is transported hundreds of miles over transmission lines.
- Boost the Local Economy - Citizens can keep energy dollars in their communities by purchasing renewable energy from local producers.
- Cost-Effective Clean Energy - Existing CLEAN Programs have proven that purchasing clean local energy can be cost-effective compared to purchasing renewable energy that must be transported from remote locations. Palo Alto CLEAN was designed to cost the average ratepayer only a penny per month.
- Implementing a CLEAN Program will require savvy advocacy – coalition building, educational campaigns, and developing strong relationships with utility executives and influential organizations.
Read Module 1 of the Local CLEAN Program Guide
to determine if implementing a CLEAN Program is the right project for your group. The Guide was designed to facilitate to creation of a CLEAN Program in areas with a community-owned utility. The Guide is also useful if your community gets energy from an investor-owned utility; however, additional challenges may exist to get an investor-owned utility to adopt a CLEAN Program. If your local investor-owned utility is not interested in voluntarily creating a CLEAN Program, your group may choose to launch a state legislative campaign.
Please note that this campaign is most suitable for established groups operating in the United States.
Get it done
1. Learn about CLEAN programs
Before you can effectively advocate for a CLEAN Program, group members must have a solid understanding of how these programs work, the benefits they offer to communities and utilities, and knowledge of successful programs around the country. Read the Local CLEAN Program Guide and join the Clean Coalition mailing list to learn about upcoming webinars and new programs. Host a kick-off meeting with your team to begin mapping out next steps for advocating for these policies in your community.
2. Identify utility policymakers
The next step is to identify key policymakers at the local utility. If the utility is community-owned, then it will be managed by utility executives and governed by a group of elected officials (such as a city council), a separately elected or appointed utility governing board, or both. If the utility is investor-owned, then it will be managed by utility executives and governed by state policymakers.
3. Contact utility policymakers
Once your group has identified key utility policymakers, the next step is to reach out to them and determine whether any of these individuals are willing to act as an internal advocate for the program. If the group is able to educate and secure the support of one or more key utility policymakers, then the group will work with these internal advocates to guide the proposal through a set process for approving new utility programs.
Before reaching out to key utility policymakers, it is essential to understand how their interests relate to a local CLEAN Program. Read Module 7 of the Local CLEAN Program Guide to learn how a local CLEAN Program can support utility goals.
4. Contact key influencers
If your group cannot find enough internal support from utility policymakers to create a CLEAN Program, then you must seek the support of outside “key influencers” – individuals and organizations with significant influence on the local utility’s policymakers. Module 7 of the Local CLEAN Program Guide includes charts to help advocates identify and understand the interests of key influencers.
At this stage, group members will determine whether it is necessary to build a coalition of key influencers and potentially conduct a public education campaign to build broad support the program. The CLEAN Los Angeles Coalition is an excellent example of an effective coalition and education campaign.
5. Define program goals
A major advantage of CLEAN Programs is that they help communities achieve economic, environmental, and sustainability goals. The process of determining specific program goals generally takes a few steps. First, propose a set of CLEAN Program goals that promote existing community goals, as well as the interests of policymakers and key influencers. Second, discuss and refine the proposed program goals through public processes, such as formal meetings and events that solicit input from key stakeholders. This will result in a set of program goals with broad support from essential players.
Find more details in the Local CLEAN Program Guide, which provides guidance to help communities define appropriate program goals.
6. Build momentum for the program
Once program goals have been clearly defined, the program can be designed and approved in accordance with the goals. CLEAN Program advocates must build the momentum necessary to get a proposed program through the approved process. The Local CLEAN Program Guide includes case studies of how advocates in Palo Alto, Los Angeles, and Sacramento ushered CLEAN Programs across the finish line.