Commentary: Indiana needs energy justice for all

Denise Abdul-Rahman is the Environmental Climate Justice Chair of the Indiana NAACP.

We are embarking on a new era of energy democracy and ‘We, the people, in order to form a more perfect union’ want a Just Energy Choice. Indiana state policies and our electric utilities are driven to use fossil fuel energy to power the industrial plants. There lies our dilemma.

These decisions are costing all of us our health, our economy, and our state’s security. This era demands bold leadership from Gov. Mike Pence or his potential successor, as well as our senators, congressmen and local officials. We require leadership that will develop our Indiana Energy Plan, and comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. Leadership resembling the actions of the White House solar plan that aims at low- and middle-income people.

We, the people, want to shift to a Green Frontier and a Renewed era. We envision an electric system that supplies us with energy that does not negate our natural habitat, our air, our water and our land.

Our vision is at an interim and, We want to use as little of the harmful energy as possible, so that We can protect our world for us, our children, the elderly and the vulnerable. Why should We sustain an electric energy system that is no longer perceived as effective and efficient? Why should the most disproportionately impacted, elderly, low-income and people of color, host and economically sustain a harmful energy system? As well as continue to bear the burden and its climate calamities?

In many Indiana markets there is only one company that supplies our electric needs, We have no other energy choice and therefore it is indeed a monopoly. Many within the service area are not able to afford rebated furnaces, water heaters, and more. The most vulnerable and people of color tend to live in aged housing that is both gas and electric or multifamily housing and therefore energy audits, and energy efficiency methodologies are more dire.

The passing of Senate Bill 412 dismantled Indiana’s greenhouse gas emissions savings and the unsustainable electric energy system is shifting its cost burdens to the ratepayers.

The 2015 Indiana General Assembly, once again opted to put profits before the people and the industrials are opting out of energy efficiency. The Indiana industrials have the highest electric energy consumption rate, gigantic carbon footprints and, therefore the industrial should lead with energy efficiency.

We must employ energy efficiency to keep our lights on at a reasonable rate. We must embark on energy efficiency with a “fierce urgency of now.” Many will require basic programs like weatherization, education, and outreach, as We shift toward energy poverty and how to survive it. Fixed rates and variable charges perpetuate the cycle of disproportionality, burden and energy poverty.

The Indiana NAACP provides our members, communities, churches and other organizations with Just Energy Town Halls. We have shared successful programs like Energizing Indiana before it was dismantled. We now share all of the varying utility programs with our communities, so we can cultivate energy efficiency and electric fairness to all, Energy Democracy for all!

Denise Abdul-Rahman, BS, MBA, HCM, HIS, is the Environmental Climate Justice Chair of the Indiana NAACP State Conference.

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