Equitable Origin (EO) was awarded a grant by the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation to support the first phase of a project to study the social and environmental impacts of clean energy infrastructure and consider the viability of applying independent, stakeholder-based standards to improve practices and local community perceptions of development projects.
EO’s CEO, Soledad Mills, said, “There is unprecedented alignment around the need to scale up renewable energy as quickly as possible, but renewable energy companies are facing challenges at the project level which have the potential to become barriers to the sector’s growth. Conflicts over land rights and land use, habitat fragmentation, wildlife impacts, water use, and lack of community consultation are just a few examples of some of the issues that are emerging in clean energy generation and transmission projects.”
Given current trends and anticipated projections for rapid scaling up of clean energy projects in Texas, the project will focus on the impact of renewable energy transmission lines. Despite the challenges these projects have faced in recent years, transmission lines are essential to bring energy from remote wind farms and solar installations to highly populated, metropolitan areas of the state.
The vocal resistance to some new renewable energy projects indicates that stakeholder concerns are not being sufficiently addressed, and pushback against these projects increases the risk of lengthy delays and other setbacks. Voluntary standards may be a viable option to efficiently and effectively engage stakeholders affected by transmission line siting. “This generous grant from the Mitchell Foundation will enable us to test the use of standards to promote early adoption of good practices as well as to improve outcomes for communities and the environment from clean energy projects,” said Sarah Coulter, EO’s Chief Operating Operator and the project lead. “EO hopes to apply lessons learned from the project in other regions.”
As Dr. Michael Conroy, Chair of EO’s Board, wrote on the Mitchell Foundation blog earlier this year, investing in best practices in environmental performance and community engagement “is an important step to ensuring that the renewable energy of the future is as kind to local ecosystems as it is beneficial to our planet.”
EO seeks additional funds to support the expansion of this project beyond Texas to reach additional communities. For more information on how you can support our efforts, please contact us: [email protected].
About the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation
The Texas-based Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation is a mission‐driven grantmaking foundation that seeks innovative, sustainable solutions for human and environmental problems. The foundation works as an engine of change in both policy and practice in Texas, supporting high-impact projects at the nexus of environmental protection, social equity, and economic vibrancy.
About Equitable Origin
EO leverages the EO100 Standard to drive responsible energy development by fostering stakeholder dialogue, delivering training and building capacity, and helping companies benchmark and improve their performance.