Georgia WAND Conducts Successful Energy Equity Forum in Burke County by Janie Hill Scott

On Monday, December 11, 2017, residents of Burke county attended the Energy Equity Forum, hosted by Georgia WAND and the Partnership for Southern Equity’s Just Energy Circle. The event was well attended! People were highly engaged, asked questions, and stayed until the end.
Speakers included Executive Director, Becky Rafter who spoke about the history of Georgia WAND and its work in the Burke County area. Program and Communications Manager Lindsay Harper spoke on how energy is regulated, electric co-ops, and the Public Service Commission meetings in relation to Burke County. Ian Karra from the Sierra Club did a presentation on ways to save energy in your home. Jennifer Speth, from the CSRA Economic Opportunity Agency (EOA) gave an overview of weatherization and handed out information to residents about how to to apply for support. Local organizer, Natalie Herrington, facilitated the event with her joyous, passionate commitment to Burke County. The final speaker was Nathanial Smith of the Partnership for Southern Equity. His powerful closing speech included a plea about the importance of getting youth involved, how energy equity related to regular people, truly important and powerful residents are advocating on their own behalf around energy and other issues.
Officials from Georgia Power were on hand to share materials about their energy savings programs; Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL)’s Megan Winzler had materials on her table about the Radionuclide Education, Monitoring, and Outreach Program (REMOP), and the CSRA EOA also attended and gave out information regarding their respective programs. During the forum, Georgia WAND conducted a survey to see what concerns the residents had related to energy and other community topics. Georgia WAND staff broke out into groups with residents to make sure to capture all of their concerns and feedback on the forum.
Residents obtained information regarding weatherization programs and how to apply. One resident was chosen to receive a $50 credit on their power bill from Georgia WAND. Local government officials also attended the forum including the Mayor Greg Carswell, local city council member Brenda Lewis, and former city council and mayoral candidate Herman Brown. Immediately following the program, Georgia WAND, Partnership for Southern Equity, and the Sierra Club had an impromptu round table discussion with the elected officials who attended.