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by Emma Foehringer Merchant
March 22, 2019

It’s been nearly a year since California’s Disadvantaged Communities Advisory Group held its first meeting.

Senate Bill 350, which in 2015 increased the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030, created the group to advise both the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission on energy justice issues. The commissions established the group in 2017 and it began work in April 2018.

Though there are numerous environmental and energy-justice organizations around the country, including ones associated with government, California’s group is the first I’ve found that works within the structure of a public utility commission or energy commission.

As one group member, Stan Greschner, said, “California is always first.”

The group is especially unique because its mandate is to advise the commissions specifically on clean energy programs, as well as energy efficiency and transportation electrification projects.

“What we want to do is identify the structural barriers that are embedded in program design that are making the programs inequitable,” said Greschner, who is also the chief policy and business development officer at GRID Alternatives. “Not only do we want to identify those barriers, but [we want] to provide thoughtful solutions to overcoming those barriers.”