Including equity in policy and program design helps ensure desired outcomes. Oftentimes, the proposed outcome is reaching traditionally underserved communities. Low-income households, indigenous people, people of color, and remote communities often experience disproportionate health, wealth, employment, and education outcomes. They are more likely to be burdened by environmental conditions such as pollution, blight, waste, and substandard housing.


The current systems that prevent full participation in programs and policies continue without concerted effort to change them. By placing a focus on equity and stakeholder engagement in the development of energy policies and programs, State Energy Offices can play a vital role in helping local communities address these inequities. Equitable and inclusionary energy and climate policies help ensure that the costs and benefits of energy consumption and production are fairly distributed, and that historically disadvantaged and underserved people have access to beneficial technologies and investments. Such policies can take different forms, from workforce programs that train unemployed and underemployed people in clean energy fields to place-based initiatives that prioritize clean energy and transportation investments, upgrades, and programs in high-need communities and neighborhoods.


What equity and equitable outcomes look like in individual states will vary depending on unique goals and circumstances. Engaging with local stakeholders (especially residents) will help identify what equity can and should look like. There are established subcategories and dimensions that may be helpful. These are meant to be a guide to developing an equity framework.


  • Procedural equity: fairness and transparency of the processes that allocate resources and adjudicate disputes
  • Distributive equity: fairness in the distribution of rights or resources (or benefits and burdens)
  • Redistributive equity: fairness in the punishment of wrongs
  • Structural equity: prevention of the chronic, cumulative disadvantage experienced by subordinated groups
  • Transgenerational equity: avoidance of unfair burdens on future generations


Source Definition

Global Energy Justice by Benjamin K. Sovacool and Michael H.
Dworkin (Defining “energy justice”)

A global energy system that fairly disseminates both the benefits and costs of energy services, and one that has representative and impartial decision-making. It involves the following key elements:

  • Costs, or how the hazards and externalities of the energy system are imposed on communities unequally, often the poor and marginalized;
  • Benefits, or how access to modern energy systems and services are highly uneven;
  • Procedures, or how many energy projects proceed with exclusionary forms of decision-making that lack due process and representations.

Partnership for Southern Equity

The fair distribution of benefits and burdens from energy production and consumption.

City of Minneapolis

Equity: Fair and just opportunities for all people

Racial equity: The development of policies, practices, and strategic investments to reverse racial disparity trends, eliminate institutional racism, and ensure that outcome and opportunities for all people are no longer predictable by race

State of Oregon Biennial Energy Review

The term equity refers to both process and outcomes. Does the process through which energy-related decisions are made include intentional engagement with all potentially affected communities and a comprehensive analysis of potential impacts? These types of process components ideally lead to energy-related decisions and outcomes with a more equitable distribution of benefits and burdens. The following outcomes as central to energy equity in Oregon communities:

  • Traditionally underrepresented members of the public and community-based organizations effectively participating and engaging in decisions that shape their energy options.
  • Benefits from clean energy and energy assistance programs, in particular those that are publicly funded, accrue to all Oregonians, across all ethnicities and income levels.
  • Clean energy and energy assistance programs that increase access to the benefits of energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy by all Oregonians, across all ethnicities and income levels people.
  • Economic opportunities from clean energy and energy assistance programs are available to all Oregonians, across all ethnicities and income levels.
  • Clean energy and energy assistance programs that effectively overcome barriers that many people experience related to property ownership, income, credit scores, and inability to use tax credits.
  • Increased access to transportation options to reduce households’ reliance on vehicle ownership and transportation fuels for all Oregonians, across all ethnicities and income levels.

Energy Infrastructure: Sources of Inequities and Policy Solutions for Improving Community Health and Wellbeing

Energy equity requires that all households and communities have reliable access to and can afford the quantity of energy needed to keep their homes and neighborhoods safe and healthy, to communicate and access information, and to have mobility to reach jobs, family, food and other necessities.