Environmental Justice and Energy Efficiency

Environmental justice is defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Environmental justice efforts focus on improving the environment in communities, specifically minority and low-income communities, and addressing disproportionate adverse environmental impacts that may exist in those communities.

Governor David A. Paterson established the Environmental Justice Interagency Task Force in June 2008 to address environmental justice concerns in New York State. The goal of the Task Force is to develop strategies that will integrate solutions to environmental justice concerns into the state's day-to-day work. The Task Force is directed by the Department of Environmental Conservation and includes a number of state agencies, including those with an energy-related focus: the Department of Public Service, the Energy Research Development Authority, and the New York Power Authority.

On February 17, 2009, the Public Service Commission commenced a proceeding to consider Demand Response Initiatives (09-E-0115). This critically important proceeding will initially focus demand response efforts in the metropolitan New York area where demand response is expected to be the most cost-effective. A key element of initiative will be an analysis of environmental impacts and benefits, including any impacts on environmental justice areas, that might result from reduced reliance on peak generation units. Environmental justice advocates have identified the study of targeted energy efficiency programs such as demand response as a way to reduce reliance on certain peakers and to avoid the need for new power plant construction in certain neighborhoods.

In support of the consumer education principle and the Commission's Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS) proceeding, a working group was created, which included environmental justice leaders as well as utility, generator, consumer, government and other parties. In particular, this group was charged with exploring the use of energy efficiency and other measures, including demand response technologies, to reduce the need for the most polluting generating plants located in or near identified environmental justice communities, consistent with electric system reliability. The Report of Working Group VIII, issued on October 17, 2008, helped informed the actions of the Commission.

DPS appreciates the contributions to the EEPS proceeding from representatives of the environmental justice community, particularly from New York City, and looks forward to continued assistance and collaboration in the new Demand Response Initiatives proceeding. The Department is committed to developing this relationship further as programs are advanced.

All Public Documents for Case 09-E-0115

More information on Environmental Justice is available at the Department of Environmental Conservation.

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