#PowerUp Chicago

In fall 2020, the RF100 Chicago team hosted our #PowerUp series, four community webinars to learn what issues matter most to Chicagoans for a just transition to 100% clean energy. Each session focused on a single topic: Better Health, Jobs, Saving Money, and Electric Transportation.

At each session, raised the important fact that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our communities. With this in mind, we spent time to explore questions, suggestions and ideas with one another about how we pursue a clean energy future using principles and themes of social and economic justice.

We’re happy to share this first summary from our #PowerUp series and we look forward to updating it as well!

The COVID crisis has made energy affordability a serious issue as Chicagoans work hard to support their families and communities. High utility bills can only make income uncertainty worse, so clean energy plans must be designed to reduce this burden on residents.

Top ideas from surveys:
“Guarantee affordable public transportation”
“Confirm access to clean energy as a public right”
“Link clean energy jobs to real community investments”

Chicago’s economic recovery strategy must provide paths to strengthen local clean energy enterprises in a way that puts Chicagoans back to work, promotes community ownership, and revives under-invested communities.

Top ideas from surveys
“Support statewide efforts to promote justice-driven strategies toward 100% clean energy”
“Provide quality benefits like childcare or transportation support”

The COVID-19 global pandemic makes it impossible to ignore the pre-existing health inequities in Chicago. To keep our communities healthy and safe, Chicago’s transition to clean power must reduce pollution from industries, vehicles, buildings, and power generation. These strategies must redress the longstanding cumulative health impacts on Black and Brown communities.

Top ideas from surveys:
“Put the needs of frontline communities first”
“Create community resilience hubs (reduced traffic, more green
spaces, urban agriculture)”
“Place electric buses in communities with greatest bus traffic
and/or poorest air quality”

An equitable clean energy future addresses how we power the city and who has power to make change. Chicagoans know the needs and histories of their communities, therefore they should be centrally involved in designing the future. Transitioning to clean power should value community knowledge and expertise on par with technical experts.

Top ideas from surveys:
“Center needs of regular public transit riders”
“Focus on most vulnerable and energy-burdened communities”

City officials must take time to understand the struggles of energy affordability and clean energy access that Chicagoans face. An accountability team, with community representatives, will help ensure coordination of community development strategies (i.e. Invest South/West), ethical supply chain management and equitable benefits.

Top ideas from surveys
“Make sure clean energy jobs are part of COVID/economic recovery plan”
“Create a publicly owned utility to promote public accountability and move more rapidly to renewable energy and electric transport”
“Examine the worldwide supply chain of [rare materials] to prevent neocolonial and detrimental approach to electrification”
“Make polluters fund clean-up efforts and job training”

3 young adults hold posters and signs about clean energy. The left reads "Clean Energy For All", the middle reads "Solar Star" and the right image is an outline of the state of Illinois with a lightbulb in the center

Want to share your ideas?
Join the conversation!

Weren’t able to join the #PowerUp community conversations? Don’t worry, we have a way for you to join the conversation too!

We built these 4 surveys with the feedback from each #PowerUp conversation. Tell us which ideas are most important to you with just a few clicks.

To learn more about the surveys and #PowerUp webinars here.