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Erik McCleary speaking at Ann Arbor for Public Power rally
Jennifer Schlicht


Access to clean water and clean energy is essential for the health and well-being of communities, the environment, and future generations. Unfortunately, many communities, especially low-income and marginalized communities, face barriers to accessing these basic resources. This is why your advocacy for a clean water and clean energy future is so important.

Energy Democracy is a concept that seeks to give communities, especially low-income and marginalized communities, greater control over their energy systems and decisions. It aims to promote equity, sustainability, and democratic decision-making in the energy sector, by ensuring that communities have a voice in the development and use of energy resources.

In recent years, there has been growing concern about the impacts of traditional energy systems on the environment, public health, and communities. Many communities across the country are seeking alternative solutions to rising energy costs and dirty energy options, such as Co-ops or Municipalization, that are more sustainable and equitable. However, access to these solutions is often limited by economic, political, and institutional barriers.

Investor-owned utilities (IOUs) are private companies that are primarily focused on maximizing profits for their shareholders. Many prioritize short-term financial gains over the needs and concerns of their ratepayers, who are paying customers. This can result in practices such as implementing rate hikes, investing in expensive and outdated infrastructure, and neglecting to prioritize the implementation of renewable energy sources. When IOUs prioritize profits over the well-being of their ratepayers, it can lead to a disregard for affordability, reliability, and sustainability in the energy sector, and ultimately hurt the communities they serve.

That is why Energy Democracy is so important. By empowering communities to participate in the energy sector, we can create a more sustainable and equitable energy future. Energy Democracy can take many forms, such as community-owned and operated renewable energy projects, community choice energy programs, and advocacy for policies that support community-led energy solutions.

I urge you to continue supporting Clean Water Action in this work. Stakeholders and ratepayers across our state are organizing to hold DTE, Michigan’s largest IOU, accountable for raising rates and not maintaining our grid. Activists in Ann Arbor are working to form their own Municipal Power Utility with the group Ann Arbor for Public Power. The benefits of Energy Democracy are evident and quantifiable. We cannot count on the companies that put us in this mess to bring us out of it.

If you would like to be involved in this effort, please send me a message and join Clean Water Action in supporting Ann Arbor for Public Power at the following events:

A2P2 Meet & Greet
March 18th, 2023 3-5p
Journey of Faith
1900 Manchester Rd
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Public Power Festival
May 21st, 2023 6-10p
Burns Park - Ann Arbor

We must work together to create a more sustainable and equitable energy and water future for all.

Read more

American Public Power Association: Benefits of Public Power [PDF]

University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, 2022 Energy Equity Project Report [PDF]