​We must push for an equitable market transformation as we strive for a greener-powered future.

As we move through the Covid-19 pandemic, we are realizing just how many livelihoods have been uprooted. I feel it as a single mom working from home and sharing space with my six year-old. Yet some people in Iowa are impacted far more adversely. As of November 2020, thirty percent of Iowans are at risk for utility shut-offs. We must advocate for these people and push for an equitable market transformation as we strive for a greener-powered future.

Last fall I began working with the Dubuque County Energy District as their program coordinator. My role is focused on driving the Energy District’s vision to see 100% clean energy in Dubuque by 2050 through a vibrant economy and resilient community built around clean, renewable energy. To realize this energy goal we will need to increase education, community outreach, state-level advocacy, energy planning, community investments in renewables, and market transformations.

Luckily, I see so much passion in my community, in everyone advocating for environmental and social justice causes. Within the Energy District, we have the opportunity to reach communities and individuals who often get left behind and amplify their voices. Dubuque County for example has a large Marshallese community that is often at risk for utility shut-offs, and many rural Iowans are in similar positions. We can help our neighbors by bringing transparency to utility expenses, ensuring they have safe housing, and preventing potentially hazardous air and gas leaks. Assisting low-income communities who are at risk of utility shut-offs can also come in the form of weatherization, insulation, and education about energy efficiency. 

 

The Energy District also assists those who can’t afford to put solar panels on their homes. Advocating for legislation that will extend solar tax credits and supporting efforts in our state house to increase the cap on these credits will make solar energy more affordable, ultimately cutting down on individuals’ energy costs and footprint. By identifying the energy challenges our communities face, we can provide a holistic, community-wide strategy when it comes to transitioning to local energy production, and we further the conversation about improving our energy grid.

 

Actions that move us toward accessible and clean energy are being taken on the federal and state level, but individuals are the ones spreading the word and creating networks of change. The Energy District provides opportunities to engage everyday people and let grassroots movements lead the way. Each of these groups, and each of our districts have goals that together can accomplish a lot. But we need equitable advocacy. We need people and leaders who want to have these conversations and who are willing to do the work. We must continue to invest in conversations about our energy future. Especially as a mom, I recognize that we need to invest in our kids and ensure that the energy future they inherit is equitable.

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Michaela Freiburger

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