Voices of 100%: St. Louis Coalition Plans to Put Coal in the Past — Episode 106 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

Date: 17 Jun 2020 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Cities are committing to 100% clean, renewable energy regardless of their circumstances. St. Louis, despite hosting the headquarters of two coal giants, has released an ambitious clean electricity plan to help the city reach its goals.

For this episode of our Voices of 100% series of the Local Energy Rules Podcast, host John Farrell speaks with Reverend Rodrick Burton and Andy Knott, both on the St. Louis Clean Energy Advisory Board. Rev. Burton is the Pastor at New Northside Missionary Baptist Church and Knott is a Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. In the episode, Farrell, Burton, and Knott discuss how St. Louis created an inclusive clean energy plan and how the city can get to 100% renewable electricity, despite the dominance of big coal. 

Listen to the full episode and explore more resources below — including a transcript and summary of the conversation.

Andy Knott I think the most important thing for other cities to, to consider is how inclusive are they being in terms of the process? It really is incredibly important to have a broad and diverse stakeholder group and to reach out to every corner of the community to get their input
John Farrell Late last year, St. Louis, Missouri became one of a few cities with a commitment to 100% renewable energy to have formerly identified several pathways to achieving its ambitious goal. The most important element in their progress thus far has been an inclusive process involving a wide range of community stakeholders. In June, 2020, Andy Knott of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign and Reverend Roderick Burton of the New Northside Missionary Baptist Church joined me to talk about how St. Louis made a goal and a plan to reach 100% renewable energy. I’m John Farrell, director of the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and this is our special Voices of 100 series focused on local leaders and their pursuit of 100% renewable energy. It’s all part of Local Energy Rules, a biweekly podcast sharing powerful stories about local, renewable energy. Andy and Reverend Burton, welcome to the program.
Andy Knott Thank you.
Rev. Rodrick Burton Thank you.
John Farrell So I was hoping that we could just take a minute for you, the two of you to kind of introduce yourselves. Maybe tell us a little bit about who you are, uh, but also then kind of what motivated you to work on renewable energy issues around the city’s hundred percent renewable energy commitment and how you got involved and why don’t we start with you Reverend Burton?
Rev. Rodrick Burton My name is Roderick Burton and I’m pastor at New Northside Missionary Baptist Church, 116 year old African-American congregation in the city of St. Louis, but it also straddles St. Louis County. So we’re unique in that way. I got into this, I’ve been pastoring the church for about a little over seven years. And before that I was interim pastor for 15 months. And during that time, as I thought about the future generations, the trend is that there’ll be less members, less people to support the work that this church has done. I thought, you know, what would be a great thing to propose, should I become the pastor or not? And I thought about the church having solar panels and through the experience of the Sierra Club of Eastern Missouri reached out to us and they educated us and they sort of brought us in on other issues. And we became a partner with them. And through that partnership, I, myself, and Andy, a few others traveled to Miami where the Sierra Club was presenting their Ready for 100 campaign. And they explained that the goals and the purposes were to get as many cities to commit to a hundred percent clean energy by 2035, I believe. And so we were part of the contingent to lobby St. Louis. Through that lobbying, we were successful, and myself and Andy ended up being on the committee, commission to shape the rules. And how’s that going to be carried out, make a plan for the city to carry out the goal. They turn out to be resolution 2030, Andy, the, you probably know the exact resolution, but we were then part of a commission to reach out and hear from the community, give voices of all the community to hear how will that be carried out. Because just is the goal for our, our planet’s survival is to transition. And then there’s a various talks of green, green new deals. And as you transition to green energy, if the transition is not inclusive, it can be as exclusive, and as you know, a lot of the problems with the old energies, not just the actual problem or the heating up changing the climate, but the problems of power and control as well as labor fight. Those could be part of the new green energy sector. What was encouraging was at the Sierra Club, in addition to pushing for this campaign, they also were training and equipping partners so that we could advocate for an inclusive implementation of a green future that’s necessary for the survival of our planet and in our country.
John Farrell That’s great. Really great to, to hear kind of your personal path around clean energy and how that integrated into your work around the a hundred percent campaign. Andy, could you share a little bit about how you came into this work and how you got connected into the a hundred percent campaign?
Andy Knott Sure, so I worked for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign and our goal is to eliminate the destructive burning of coal and its impact in the country. And for me, this has always been about a public health issue. Unfortunately, here in St. Louis, our utility Ameren is very dependent on burning coal. Last year, 63% of our electricity came from the burning of coal and Ameren has some of the largest polluters in the country in terms of its coal fleet. The Peabody coal plant is the fourth largest source of carbon pollution in the country, which contributes to our climate crisis. It also is the largest, one of the largest sources of sulfur pollution in the country. And last year, a federal judge found that Ameren had not violated the Clean Air Act, but ordered Ameren to install emissions control is at its Rush Island plant. And that the judge should have cited evidence that that plant had contributed to roughly 800 premature deaths over a nine year period, really serious health impacts. It’s also an environmental justice issue. And I think it was in 2018 that this, that the city of St. Louis issued a report that, that it was an equity indicators report. And it found that Black children were 10 times more likely to visit the emergency room for asthma than white children. So these, these have real serious impacts on people in the city. So we were looking to approach the city on how to move to one hundred percent clean energy, Sierra Club had a conversation with Louis Reed, the president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. He was very interested, excited and taking up this cause and sponsoring the resolution was adopted in the fall of 2017 to start this process.
John Farrell So the city ultimately made its commitment in 2018 to achieve the one hundred percent renewable energy target, and also set up a process to create a plan for getting to that goal, which I think was really admirable. We have a lot of cities who have made this commitment and are kind of lost. We actually just worked with some students from the University of Michigan. It’s a graduate program there, and they did a survey of cities that have made a hundred percent renewable energy commitments that we recently worked with them to publish and found that a lot of cities are really unsure of how to proceed. But St. Louis issued in an October of last year, a detailed report called The Pathways to 100% Clean Energy, which I think is great. And that both maps out for St. Louis, but I think could be used by a lot of other cities. Why don’t we start with you, Andy, were you involved in developing the plan? It sounds like both you and Reverend Burton were kind of involved in this process, ended it, ended up reflecting the goals that were set out in the city resolution to engage a broad range of stakeholders.
Andy Knott Yeah. Yes, it did. I was on the advisory board as was Reverend Burton and several other leaders of different organizations in the region. And I was also on the technical committee that developed the pathways report and Reverend Burton was on the, the, the public engagement committee. So he can speak more to that. But yeah, the advisory board itself was broad and diverse. There were representatives from the faith community like Reverend Burton, social justice organizations, the business community. We had solar and energy efficiency experts, academia, health experts, and local government. So, so the resolution stated that there would be an advisory process to develop this plan and then it would reach out and engage a broad, diverse group of folks. And I believe that the process did that, I think that again, president Reed, the Board of Aldermen did a great job in leading.
John Farrell Reverend Burton, I’m interested in hearing from you, given that you were involved in the engagement piece, do you feel like it was done in a way that really got the, got to the ideas and opinions of a lot of broad range of stakeholders and residents in St. Louis? And I guess even more importantly, do you feel like it’s a process that other cities should consider using in terms of evaluating how they get to their one hundred percent renewable energy goals?
Rev. Rodrick Burton Yes, sir. Very pleased with the effort. You know, a lot of times you can’t necessarily control people’s interests, but great efforts, great strides were made to make sure that in different parts of the city in different voices that had typically not, you know, you don’t hear from that input was made or outreach was made to get their input. And so we did a study, we did a series of town halls, informational type meetings in public places, in, in the different demographics of the city. And so we did follow some of the plans that other cities in Maine, I think it was Atlanta. We took a look at how they did and we tried to follow and emulate and then also tailor for our community. Because when you look at other places that that’s specific to their place, you’re always going to have to tailor it to your context. So I believe they made, we made good faith efforts on trying to make sure as many people got their input. You know, they were out at the zoo, they would canvass, they read, but they were all over. We were all over trying to get as much influence from input from citizens on this process. And in many, just to inform them what the process was. Sometimes you have to tell people what something is before they get the input, what am I getting my input? So that was part of it too, was educate people. And then also to give them an opportunity to put in an input. So, yeah, I think we did set out a model that others can replicate and tailor for their own context.
John Farrell You know, I saw what I thought were some really interesting ideas in the plan. This pathways report, whether it was rooftop solar for city buildings, I saw reference to the pay as you save model for financing, clean energy projects, or we sometimes refer to that as inclusive energy financing because it helps break down some financial barriers folks have. There was also mention of the city lobbying state regulators, and legislators, for better statewide clean energy policy. Do you think there’s anything the city is already doing? I mean, obviously we’ve got a coronavirus epidemic. We now are enmeshed in protests over the death of George Floyd and kind of the ongoing issues with police brutality. So it’s maybe hard to sort of go back to this background issue of the climate crisis, but is there anything the city’s already doing around the clean energy goal that you think is worth sharing about, particularly anything that’s reflecting on this interest in reducing local pollution and improving health outcomes?
Rev. Rodrick Burton Andy, you want to take it?
Andy Knott Yeah, I’ll take a crack at that. So the city of St. Louis has been a leader on these issues for a long time. The city’s had a sustainability plan for several years. And in fact, this, this clean energy plan was meant to supplement that. So some of the things that have been happening in recent years sort of overlap with the clean energy plan. For example, in 2017, the city adopted a building energy awareness ordinance required property owners that had buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to report their annual energy use to the city. So this was a way of getting large, large property owners to be more aware of how much energy they were using. It didn’t require anything to be done other than reporting that. And then in 2018, the St. Louis Board of Alderman adopted the most up to date building codes for energy efficiency. It’s called the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code that was adopted in July of 2018, becoming one of the first major cities to do so that ordinance, the estimates that it would make new buildings, new homes, 27% more energy efficient, and the homeowners would save $580 per year on their energy bills. And then just last spring, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen also adopted, and this was, I should mention the mayor, mayor Cruz, and was also supported these efforts. She’s been a leader and signed, the Paris climate agreement, pledges and clean energy pledges. And so there’s this latest ordinance that was adopted by the Board and signed by the mayor was a building energy performance standard. Again, it applies to large buildings of 50,000 square feet or more, and this will set up energy performance targets for these buildings that they will have to meet over the next several years to make existing buildings, more energy efficient.
John Farrell That’s terrific. Reverend Burton, is there anything that you wanted to add around things that the city is already doing?
Rev. Rodrick Burton I would say, you know, Andy pretty much well hit most of those things, but I think what’s very important is the steps that they took in putting the committee together to shape about what the future is going to look like. And then also kind of making this commitment to push for clean energy by a specific date, and then outlining the plan and then having an inclusive group to be about implementing the plan. And then also making sure that the intentionality is that, as I said again, as we go forward, it’s as inclusive as possible. And if the people still have their input on how this is going to happen, how this will carry out, I believe they’re going to continue to keep their eye on the ball with partners. Missouri has a good, strong set of partners who are going to be holding accountable for the city in its action. And then also probably challenging St. Louis County. And so for those who are not aware of, our metropolitan area in the late 1800s, the city and the County divorced. And so instead of like in Chicago, Chicago is inside of Cook county, St. Louis is its own County and then Saint Louis  County is its own County. So, you know, we were hoping it would a future, what was doing in St. Louis can spread to St. Louis County and they would use the same process. They could follow St. Louis as example.
John Farrell We’re going to take a short break. When we come back, I ask if it’s been a barrier to progress to have the world’s two coal companies headquartered in St. Louis, what particular local assets have helped the pursuit of 100%, and what recommendations Andy and Reverend Burton have for other cities.
John Farrell Hey, thanks for listening to Local Energy Rules. If you’ve made it this far, you’re obviously a fan and we could use your help for just two minutes. As you’ve probably noticed, we don’t have any corporate sponsors or ads for any of our podcasts. The reason is that our mission at ILSR is to reinvigorate democracy by decentralizing economic power. Instead, we rely on you, our listeners. Your donations not only underwrite this podcast, but also help us produce all of the research and resources that we make available on our website and all of the technical assistance we provide to grassroots organizations every year. Each year, our small staff helps hundreds of communities challenge monopoly power directly and rebuild their local economies. So please take a minute and go to Ilsr.org and click on the donate button. And if making a donation isn’t something you can do, please consider helping us in other ways. You can help other folks find this podcast by telling them about it or by giving it a review on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. The more ratings from listeners like you, the more folks can find this podcast and ILSR’s other podcasts: Community Broadband Bits and Building Local Power. Thanks again for listening. Now, back to the program.
John Farrell I want to go back a little bit, Andy, to what you were talking about before. You mentioned Ameren is this the major utility serving St. Louis? And that it’s very reliant on coal for its electricity production also been referenced in some of the news stories around St. Louis is work on clean energy, about it’s also headquarters to two major coal producers. Those come across as potentially really big barriers, and I’m interested to hear if there are particular ways in which that has presented a barrier to progress, but I’m also curious if there are particular assets that you feel like you have in St. Louis that you’ve been able to tap in terms of being able to make progress.
Andy Knott Sure. So yeah, St. Louis has headquarters to Peabody Coal and Arch Coal, two largest coal producers in the world. And surprisingly has not been a barrier to this work. When the resolution to move to a hundred percent energy was being considered in the fall of 2017, the day before it was adopted, there was a push by Peabody to try to stop it. And they did not, did not. They were not successful. In fact, resolution was adopted unanimously by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. So I think that that kind of speaks to your second question about what are the assets that the city has. And the city has a very active and progressive citizenship and folks are very interested and engaged in improving the city situation, and that has been reflected in its elected officials. And so fortunately folks are seeing past that. You’re seeing past the past, I mean, coal is the past, and it is a declining source of energy around the world. And, and also here in Missouri and, and people want to move beyond it and think that that’s one of the great things about St. Louis is its residents are very engaged and really want to, to improve, improve the city for the health of its, of its, uh, of their fellow neighbors.
John Farrell Reverend Burton, anything that you think of being kind of a particular asset to St. Louis and this work on a hundred percent renewable energy?
Rev. Rodrick Burton Yeah, I would say what’s a good asset, same as that, but we have a very good partners such as the Sierra Club whom have been very intentional and very mindful to outreach and make sure voices such as the African-American community and other communities are heard and making people aware about what’s going on and inviting them to the table. We have the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, we have a number of partners whom together have been able to successfully lobby for this type of change. And then as well as continue to work in a context where the government is a challenge, but they’ve been able to, you know, make gains, at least get conversations and have doors open so that folks can hear what’s going on and maybe push past hardest and shift to do what’s best for the state. Sometimes that means just using different language in different contexts, but to continue to strive, to reach for the goal.

We also have good partners in our academic institutions, Washington University. They’ve been a great partner in this resource and then some other groups, I’m blanking out, but we have of course, a lot of people are unaware that St. Louis has got its own sort of high tech center going on other than Silicon Valley, maybe it’s Silicon Valley Midwest. Out of the river, but there’s partnerships within the tech community who are also adding to this conversation. So it’s a diverse gathering of folks who are partnering and applying good pressure, as well as accountability on the steps that are being taken. And so it looks good going forward with this type of a team effort.

John Farrell I want to wrap up by asking each of you kind of what recommendations that you might have for folks in other cities based on your experience. I’ll start with Andy and then kind of give you the last word, Reverend Burton. I specifically, what recommendations do you have for kind of how to approach this process and other folks in other cities, do you think St. Louis can achieve its goal? And do you think it will be worth it? Andy, to you first?
Andy Knott Sure. I think the most important thing for other cities too, to consider is how inclusive are they being in terms of the process? It really is incredibly important to have a broad, diverse stakeholder group and to reach out to every corner of the community to get their input and us. And I do think the city can achieve its goal and it certainly will be, it will be worth the effort we’re currently, as you mentioned earlier, we’re in the third, in the middle of, of addressing more important issues and the other really important equity issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic. And now the issue of racial justice around police brutality and police killings. And I think that the climate crisis is also an equity issue. And, you know, we have to try to solve a lot of these issues on the basis of, of the inequities that this country and, and in many cities have faced over the past hundreds of years in this country. It’s just, it’s, you know, we have a lot of, a lot of issues that are based in inequity. And I think we have to keep that in mind as we tackle any of these issues, including the climate crisis. So I think that when we come out of this, we will have not only a more equitable society, but also a cleaner one and one in which everyone can enjoy public health.
John Farrell Reverend Burton do you, what recommendations do you have based on your experience in St. Louis and what do you see as what will make this worth it in the outcome, in the end?
Rev. Rodrick Burton I would say that St. Louis has a reputation, for those who are here, at times not being as progressive and on this issue, St. Louis has been very progressive and I will have to credit a lot of that again, to the partnerships. I do want to commend the Sierra Club and Missouri, as an example, in that they reached out, they were very persistent and intentional to make sure that voices from other communities, because at times the movement for environmental racism can look pretty much well, upper middle class and white. And so they have been very good and not just reaching out, but also making sure that voices are included in it, there’s equity. Because many times that word is tossed around, but on the ground, it, the voices aren’t really welcome. And if they’re not really integral to the conversation, then it’s just no more than just politically correct banter, but I want to commend them because there’s an example that can be done of making relationships with. So before we got to this point, there had been an ongoing relationship that was reciprocal, that worked well, so that when it came time for the push for legislation, we were able to work together. It wasn’t just, Oh, let’s talk to you about this particular issue. So for those who would be following the footsteps, they would do the legwork of making relationships with other groups that maybe didn’t even think about, and then solidifying those relationships before they go forward with the bigger goal. And so I think that is a good example, and that’s a good way that St. Louis has demonstrated and that can be replicated. And I think that will be appreciated and get to not only the goal of survival and reducing carbon emissions, as well as the transition from old energy to new energy, green energy, but doing so in a way that’s different than before that all of us can be proud about and look forward to.
John Farrell Well, Reverend Burton and Andy, thank you so much for joining me for this conversation. It’s great to hear about the progress that you’ve been making in St. Louis and the example that you’re setting for other cities, setting out on this one hundred percent renewable energy work, I, really appreciate your time.
Rev. Rodrick Burton Thank you.
Andy Knott Thank you.
John Farrell Thank you so much for listening to this episode of our Voices of 100% podcast series with Reverend Roderick Burton of the New Northside Missionary Baptist Church and Andy Knott of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, both of St. Louis Missouri. On the show page, look for links to the city’s pathways report, it’s equity indicators report, and several other items mentioned in this interview. To learn about other cities pursuing 100% renewable energy, check out over a dozen additional Voices of 100% interviews, including leaders in Madison, Wisconsin, Cleveland, Ohio, or even Abita Springs, Louisiana. check out the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign page to see more cities and their clean energy goals. Back on the website of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, you can also find the entire list of 100% cities on our community power map and click through an interactive community power toolkit for stories on how cities have advanced toward their goal. Tune back in to Local Energy Rules every two weeks to hear more powerful stories of communities taking on concentrated power to transform the energy system.
John’s daughter, Meredith Until next time, keep your energy local and thanks for listening.

Building an Inclusive Coalition

Knott and Rev. Burton became part of the St. Louis Clean Energy Advisory Board through two different avenues. Their differences speak to what the coalition is for: representing different stakeholders in the community.

Rev. Burton has been Pastor of the New Northside Missionary Baptist Church for seven years. Eight years ago, as an interim pastor, Burton had the idea of putting solar panels on the church. He believed that renewable energy could help sustain the 116 year old African-American congregation into the future. To pursue this idea, Burton joined the Sierra Club and traveled to Miami for a presentation on the Ready for 100 campaign. Upon return, Rev. Burton lobbied for the city of St. Louis to make a commitment and accepted a role on the committee, specifically on the public engagement committee.

As you transition to green energy, if the transition is not inclusive… A lot of the problems with the old energies [were] not just the actual problem of changing the climate, but [were] problems of power and control.

– Rev. Rodrick Burton

Knott is a representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. He traveled to Miami for the Sierra Club’s presentation with Rev. Burton and the two lobbied together in St. Louis. Knott is on the technical committee that developed the city’s Pathways to 100% Clean Energy report.  In the interview, Knott emphasizes the health risk that coal-fired electricity presents to the public. Ameren, the utility serving St. Louis, delivered 63% coal energy in 2019. This same year, a judge ruled that Ameren must install a pollution scrubber at its Rush Island coal plant. This polluting plant was responsible for 800 premature deaths over nine years, says Knott.

For me, this has always been about a public health issue.

– Andy Knott

Knott also discusses the environmental justice issues caused by St. Louis coal plants. Published in January 2019, the St. Louis Equity Indicators Baseline Report found that “Black children are 10 times more likely to visit the emergency room for asthma than white children.” This environmental justice issue is not only a St. Louis issue: historically marginalized communities are disproportionately likely to live near a toxic emitter nationwide.

Burton and Knott, like all members of the Clean Energy Advisory Board, want what’s best for St. Louis residents. In their opinions, a commitment to 100 percent renewable energy was best. In 2017, Pres. Louis Reed and the Board of Alderman agreed with them: the board unanimously passed a resolution for 100% clean electricity.

Planning for Success

St. Louis is committed to achieving 100% renewable electricity by 2035. In October 2019, the city released the Pathways to 100% Clean Energy report on how it plans to get there.

Burton discusses the inclusive process used to arrive at the plan. Including Burton and Knott, the Clean Energy Advisory Board was composed of health experts, members of academia, renewable energy experts, social justice advocates, and faith leaders.

Members of the board worked tirelessly to both educate and gather public input through town halls, meetings, and even canvassing at the zoo. The final plan they came up with borrows some components from Atlanta, says Burton, but he stresses the importance of tailoring the plan to the local context. Both Rev. Burton and Knott were pleased with the overall process.

Listen to our Voices of 100 episode with Megan O’Neil, Energy Programs Manager for the City of Atlanta.

Knott believes that St. Louis is already leading in its implementation of clean energy and efficiency initiatives. Large buildings are required to report their energy use to the city, new homes must abide by 2018 building energy codes, and a new 2020 building code will make existing buildings 27% more energy efficient.

The city has had a sustainability plan for several years. And in fact, this clean energy plan was meant to supplement that.

– Andy Knott

The “Pathways” clean energy plan will build on existing legislation by installing rooftop solar on public buildings, implementing a “pay as you save” model, or even lobbying Missouri officials for better energy policy in the state.

Read our report Investigating City Commitments to 100% Renewable Energy, written by University of Michigan Master’s students in collaboration with ILSR.

Overcoming Ameren’s Coal Dependence

As referenced before, coal makes up 63 percent of Ameren’s energy portfolio. Additionally, two of the largest coal producers in the world, Peabody Coal and Arch Coal, are headquartered in St. Louis. Surprisingly, Knott says that their presence in the city has not been a barrier to progressive policy. 

Protesters outside of Peabody Coal headquarters, St. Louis

St. Louis has been able to pass clean energy initiatives due to its “active and progressive citizenship,” says Knott. Despite Peabody’s efforts to stop the 100% resolution, the Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to adopt it. Rev. Burton describes the importance of several partnerships in St. Louis: the Sierra Club, Washington University, and the tech community.

Advice on Advancing Goals through Action

Knott’s advice to other cities is to work on inclusivity. Since the climate crisis presents many inequities, cities must approach climate change mitigation with equity in mind. This is done best by including those who have the most at stake. 

Burton seconds the importance of inclusion; the necessity of seeking out voices that are often excluded in the environmental movement. He also discusses the importance of relationship building. This process must begin before the push for legislation, says Burton, to establish trust between partners.

I think that will be appreciated and get to not only the goal of survival and reducing carbon emissions, as well as the transition from old energy to new energy, green energy, but doing so in a way that’s different than before. That all of us can be proud of and look forward to.

– Rev. Rodrick Burton

Episode Notes

See these resources for more behind the story:

For concrete examples of how cities can take action toward gaining more control over their clean energy future, explore ILSR’s Community Power Toolkit.

Explore local and state policies and programs that help advance clean energy goals across the country, using ILSR’s interactive Community Power Map.

This is the 22st episode of our special  Voices of 100% series, and episode 106 of Local Energy Rules, an ILSR podcast with Energy Democracy Director John Farrell, which shares powerful stories of successful local renewable energy and exposes the policy and practical barriers to its expansion.

This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter, our energy work on Facebook, or sign up to get the Energy Democracy weekly update

Featured Photo Credit: Tolkien1914 via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Thanks to intern Drew Birschbach for producing the audio on this episode.


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Maria McCoy is a Researcher with the Energy Democracy Initiative. In this role, she contributes to blog posts, podcasts, video content, and interactive features.