October 9, 2017

Grantee New York Energy Democracy Alliance came to a summit in New York to protest the way the state’s “Reforming Energy Vision” projects are being implemented. Criticizing the state energy czar for his ties to Goldman Sachs and investments in the company building the Dakota Access pipeline and ExxonMobil, the group advocated for affordable, equitable distribution of localized renewable energy and a halt to nuclear subsidies.

The protest took place at the REV Future 2017 summit at the Marriott in Downtown Brooklyn, which convened renewable energy start-ups and New York State regulators discussed the future of New York’s energy grid. REV indicates Reforming Energy Vision, Governor Cuomo’s blueprint to reduce the state’s emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. As the Indypendent put it, “basically, the event served as a space for entrepreneurs and financiers to prod regulators for ways to earn a buck off the decentralized and increasingly arcane energy landscape REV — now three and half years into implementation — is gradually giving birth to.”

Among other forms of protest, two women in capes that read “REV = Not Your Business” cast themselves as private security for Richard Kauffman, who they called the “all powerful Energy Czar.” Drawing attention to the $1000 price of admission to REV, the protesters highlighted the inequalities represented by the gathering. As Adam Flint of Southern Tier Solar Works said, “unlike some of the other players, communities of color and low-income communities don’t have deep pockets to hire people to represent their voices in these highly technical matters.”

The EDA represents over 20 organizations pushing for REV to take a more equitable approach in considering how energy policy impacts working and poor residents in the state, “many of whom not only struggle to pay their electrical bills — some of the highest in the country — but who, as 2012’s Superstorm Sandy illustrated, often live on the front lines of climate change.”