Open Collective
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Advancing Utility Justice in 2022
Published on December 16, 2022 by Maria Stamas

The People's Utility Commons is an organizing ground for frontline communities interested in creating utility justice through new laws that advance a just transition and guarantee universal access to essential public goods in a fully decarbonized world. 

We have planned the launch of the People's Utility Commons for over a year and joined the Open Collective universe in August 2022. After five months of learning and building with dozens of movement allies across the country, and with seed funding from the Energy Foundation, we offer this short review of our year. 

In 2023, we're excited to connect with other like-minded collectives focused on climate justice and will be launching our public website very soon! 

What we did in 2022

  • We created a project proposal and prospectus and numerous materials to support a 2-year fundraising campaign and secured two initial seed grants worth $400,000 total. 
  • We spoke with over 40 allied supporters (including 10 frontline organizations) to complete a landscape analysis of the field, receive feedback on the need for our proposed project, and create prospective partnerships. 
  • We completed specific deliverables for 4 frontline, movement organizations and 3 academic partners that simultaneously supported our own utility justice research and curriculum development. 
  • We established a framework and detailed lesson plans for our utility justice curriculum
  • We completed initial legal research on utility law and standards that hinder procedural, distributional, and structural justice in the utility system-- especially those that obstruct an end to utility shutoffs or hinder the establishment of universal rights to energy. 


Our reflections on 2022 

We continue to be incredibly grateful for the opportunity to design, launch, and work for the People's Utility Commons. As a new initiative, we learned a lot this year, including:  
  • Political and economic changes continue to shift rapidly, increasing movement demand for our work. While we're excited about the momentum we feel in the field, we're constantly calibrating our many priorities with the capacity we have. 
  • Open Collective Foundation allows us to move nimbly without the structure of an independent 501(c)(3), and there's still a minimum level of architecture design and time required to launch any new initiative. 
  • Many people are excited to potentially come and work with us on the Commons if we could financially support more movement workers. 


We're looking forward to 2023

We have exciting plans for the year ahead and expect to: 
  • Complete foundational research on utility laws in multiple arenas, and begin to publish findings on our website and in other outlets.
  • Launch the People’s Utility Commons website as a digital movement-focused repository and archival system for future organizers
  • Design and deliver a popular education utility justice curriculum in partnership with multiple frontline formations, already underway
  • Offer on-the-ground trainings in 5 geographies as well as a national virtual training



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