15 May

By Craig Ickler

Cleveland Owns and Cleveland Solar Cooperative kicked off May by attending RE-AMP Network’s Energy Democracy Summit here in Cleveland! The RE-AMP Network is composed of over 130 organizations including Cleveland Owns and together we are working to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in the Midwest by 2050 (and hopefully sooner!)

The Energy Democracy Summit was a great opportunity for people and organizations locally to see the broader work being done across the region.  We had the opportunity to frame our work within the Four D’s of Energy Democracy: 

  • Decentralized - local renewable energy provides safe, reliable power
  • Democratized - community influence and decision-making meets environmental, economic, and social justice needs.
  • (Re)Distributed - all people have access to the energy needed to live, learn, and work, without sacrificing the health or well being of any community
  • Diversified - Community-scale energy systems designed to work in harmony with local ecosystems, protecting biological and cultural diversity. 

While each of the four D’s of Energy Democracy, described in Reimagining Energy for our Communities, an awesome zine from the Energy Democracy Project, is necessary and important on their own, they really shine together. At the summit, our organizations had diverse areas of focus. Some of the attendees worked in policy, building the intellectual framework for our movement, and others focused on building the political movement necessary to implement those policies. Still other organizations came who are involved in community solar, from fellow solar cooperatives, to non-profit organizations helping communities access solar, and folks trying to reinvigorate and decarbonize rural electric cooperatives. 

What brought us together was our shared values of democracy, equity, fairness, and a knowledge that the climate crisis can only be fought from the grassroots up! 

Here in Cleveland, we got the opportunity to show off our contribution to this work. Cleveland Solar Cooperative coordinated a field trip for the attendees. We were able to tour the location of what will one day be the site of Ohio’s first community-owned solar array. 

Between the thought-provoking conversations, touring Cleveland Solar Cooperative’s new site, and a few cannolis before our new friends headed to the airport, it was a great conference!

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