Renewable Energy Worcester (RENEW) grew out of organizing for community-owned clean energy in Worcester MA. When changes in the policy landscape (limits on net metering credits) undermined our efforts, we discussed other ways to further the work. In late 2016, we organized a community energy forum in three languages using popular education strategies. The success of the energy forum inspired a core group to form an organization. As a small group of community organizers, we addressed capacity issues by becoming a local chapter (Community Energy Co-operative ((CEC)) ) of Co-op Power, a regional consumer energy cooperative that operates through local CECs in the Northeast (mainly MA), but we also operate as an independent energy democracy organization.
Our work is three-fold:
1. We connect low income residents, nonprofits, and businesses that serve immigrant communities and communities of color to clean energy solutions designed by energy co-operatives. This work (“customer acquisition”) generates some revenue for RENEW.
In partnership with Co-op Power and Resonant Energy (a mission-aligned solar design business in Boston), RENEW was accepted into the U.S. Department of Energy Solar In Your Community Challenge to install 250kw of solar on the properties of non-profits, with a focus on faith-based organizations. We also partner with E4theFuture, a nonprofit located in Framingham MA that is developing clean energy solutions in a low income Worcester neighborhood. That project will also be governed as a consumer energy co-op. The role of RENEW is to do outreach and community engagement—raise awareness about energy issues in general and the clean energy solutions of the co-ops; identify and develop leads.
2. We advocate for non energy benefits (jobs and job pipelines) in clean energy projects. RENEW is a member of the Worcester Community Labor Coalition; we are in the formative stage of planning a jobs forum that will identify job opportunities in the clean energy industry in our community, including entry level positions that open doors to more responsibilities and career ladders, as well as needed trainings and support for job readiness.
3. We aim to support leadership in energy justice within frontline communities. This is key to our mission and an ongoing challenge. Community forums, house parties, neighborhood events are critical interventions but not revenue-generating.
Three of the six co-founders of RENEW have ongoing or periodic commitments outside Worcester. We are focused on building membership and leadership of the organization within communities of color and immigrant communities. We are looking for an intern who can help with recruitment strategies.
During the first two weeks, a member of RENEW will orient and mentor the intern, familiarizing them with our history, current and past projects and partnerships. The intern will also learn by participating in activities: attending meetings; accompanying other members on outreach, and participating in events. Ideally, the intern will be able to take initiative and work to a large degree independently; however, other members of RENEW will be available as needed to support whatever projects the intern undertakes. The intern will also have the option of attending a weeklong anarchist camp, the Institute for Advanced Troublemaking, which will expose them to anarchist theory, anti-oppression, direct action tactics and strategic movement building.
The intern will gain experience in grassroots organizational development and membership recruitment. The intern will learn about or deepen familiarity with energy democracy initiatives, as well as opportunities and challenges for energy democracy in the clean energy industry. Depending on projects undertaken, the intern may also gain experience evaluating organizational structures, business development; strategic planning, planning events, and/or fundraising. The internship provides exceptional opportunity to hone skills in facilitation, conflict prevention and resolution, and community engagement.