January 8, 2024
Category: News

Case Study on Community Consulting

Energy industries have far-reaching impacts on communities across the United States, yet communities often lack access to scientifically rigorous and regionally-relevant information on the local impacts of energy industries. In 2023, PSE Healthy Energy launched the Community Consulting Center to help bring science to communities. Through the Community Consulting Center, our scientists provide communities with technical expertise and analysis on the issues they care about most—from local demographic trends in energy reliability to the impacts of local energy infrastructure on public health.

Our Work

Through our Community Consulting Center we are providing communities with applied energy and climate research that is timely, locally relevant, and easy-to-understand. PSE scientists work with community groups and other local networks to help identify research questions that can support effective solutions. From there, we design research projects based on the best-available data and our expertise. Research is then shared in clear and actionable formats like issue briefs, presentations, expert testimony, and data visualization.

Our Impact

In 2023, the Community Consulting Center delivered 13 tailored research projects to 11 community based organizations across 10 different U.S. states. These organizations used this research to inform various local proceedings, including in regulatory filings and testimony.

“We found ourselves in need of a technical analysis for an air permit, an area where we have limited expertise. PSE transformed folders of data into a comprehensive document that we were able to submit during a comment period. This was sort of a first for us with having a level of technical analysis that we didn’t have before.”

Maggie Schuppert

Campaigns Director, CURE

“PSE’s expertise in translating data into something that’s palatable and not just facts and figures is valuable when we work with individuals who aren’t completely aware of local climate concerns. Materials like our fact sheet, which compares the HERC emissions to other facilities in Hennepin County, is something we can lean on for efforts like door knocking.”

Charles Frempong

Communications Coordinator, Minnesota Environmental Justice Table

Project Examples

  • Expert Review of Air Quality Permit in Minnesota: PSE offers scientific expertise to communities navigating regulatory proceedings and other highly technical energy and climate issues. Through a partnership with the Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund, the Clean Up the River Environment (CURE), and Minnesota Environmental Justice Table we provided expert review of an air quality permit from a municipal solid-waste incinerator generating plant in Minnesota.

The plant emits several pollutants classified by the EPA and if it reaches allowable emission limits, it could result in 1.3-3.0 PM2.5 related mortalities per year. This was estimated at $14.8 million-$33.4 million in PM2.5 related total health costs.

We also provided several recommendations for further action aligned with the U.S. EPA’s Principles for Addressing Environmental Justice Concerns in Air Permitting.

  • Energy Burden Analysis in North Carolina: Analysis by PSE scientists can help provide communities with critical information on the factors driving local climate and energy impacts. Appalachian Voices contacted PSE for help understanding customers of non-profit electric cooperative utilities (an alternative to investor-owned electric utilities) in North Carolina. Specifically, Appalachian Voices wanted to understand the characteristics of households experiencing financial strain because of energy bills, and what actions utilities could take to reduce them.

PSE scientists researched all available data and distilled trends in energy affordability for the customers of each electric cooperative utility in North Carolina down to the neighborhood scale.

We presented these results in easy to understand fact sheets and a summary report with statewide recommendations on how to help bring down the energy bills for the customers of cooperatives that are most in need.

Looking Ahead

The Community Consulting Center continues to expand its offerings, bringing science to communities that lack access to scientific research and institutions. To learn more about the Community Consulting Center or to contact our team, visit our blog on Bringing Science to Communities.

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