Equitable Grid Cohort Releases Equitable Grid Principles

The Equitable Grid Cohort released a set of Equitable Grid Principles this week to encourage increased community participation in proceedings and activities involving the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). 

MISO is a nonprofit that operates the electrical transmission system and wholesale electricity markets across 15 midwest states and the Canadian province of Manitoba. MISO serves more than 42 million people and is responsible for ensuring that the electric grid is reliable, accessible to all customers and efficient. They coordinate the movement of electricity between generating plans and local distribution utilities and ensure that there is enough electricity to meet customer demand. MISO is also responsible for the integration of renewable energy such as solar and wind into the electric grid. 

For more information about MISO check out this blog by Mike Schowalter with Fresh Energy called “What’s up with MISO, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator? to learn more.

The Equitable Grid Cohort is a coalition of environmental justice leaders, frontline groups and other stakeholders at the frontlines of transmission and power plant decision making in the MISO. Together these groups co-created a set of 9 principles for an equitable electric grid along with an explanation of how the principle was written and should be applied. These principles can assist community advocates and policymakers at the local, state and federal level to guide grid infrastructure decision-making. 

Traditionally, electric grid planning has sought to maintain safe, reliable, efficient and affordable service for customers, at the expense of equity and access consideration for low-wealth and Black, Indigenous and persons of color (BIPOC) communities. 

The Equitable Grid Principles include: 

  1. Indigenous Rights. 
  2. Accountable Decision Making. 
  3. Accessibility and Procedural Justice. 
  4. Community Control and Governance. 
  5. Local Control and Value. 
  6. Prioritize Renewables and Energy Efficiency. 
  7. Justly Sourced.
  8. Workers Rights and Protections. 
  9. Climate Resilience. 

The breadth of MISOs jurisdiction makes it prime for this conversation, especially with new funding from the Inflation Reduction Act that contains several provisions aimed at incentivizing increased development of electricity transmission infrastructure. MISO needs to start considering the impact of their decision making on frontline communities. More importantly they must find ways to engage communities around energy planning decisions that directly affect them such as electricity reliability and affordability. 

The Equitable Grid Cohort came together for an in-person meeting in 2022 to talk about the new investments from federal legislation within MISO and the importance of community voices and participation in decision making. The cohort developed a set of principles that, if implemented in electric grid decision making, can lead to improved outcomes for communities including improved health, jobs, financial benefits, avoided burden and reliable electricity.

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