We believe a joyful, just, healthy, democratic, and resilient utility system is possible. Strategies to transform our existing institutions and infrastructure will require a fundamental understanding of the utility history that led us to this point in time and the knowledge and skills of hundreds more activists who share the goals of utility justice in our lifetimes.
“How Did the Utilities End up Like This? What Are We Going to Do About It?” is designed to support collective peer-to-peer learning about the past, present, and future of the utility system and build the people power of our movement.
We believe this 12-module curriculum provides a new addition to the utility justice and energy democracy landscape about:
- the evolution of the utility regulatory system to date,
- core beliefs embedded into the utility system we have inherited, and
- alternatives to the for-profit utility model that exist and continue to be developed around the world.
There is no wrong way to use this workbook. Inside are a mix of activities. Some sections are capable of being taught from one to many (teacher to student). Other sections contain exercises for discussion or reflection together. We have also included a handful of guided activities to bring in your local knowledge and familiarize you with digital research tools.
The curriculum is published under a Creative Commons license. With appropriate credit under the terms of our chosen license, you can share it: copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, as well as adapt it: remix, transform, and build upon the material.
Download the curriculum’s components
About the People’s Utility Commons
The People’s Utility Commons was operated by isaac sevier and Maria Stamas between 2021 and 2023.
isaac sevier is an energy engineer and policy advocate with extensive experience with policy and investment that addresses interlocking issues of race, class, and climate vulnerability in California, nationwide, and at the federal level. To address the need for movement infrastructure that changes the shape of policy and politics, isaac supports collective action, and they have worked on the design and launch of the Equitable Building Electrification Fund, the California Green New Deal coalition, and the Red, Black & Green New Deal initiative. They live on unceded Ramaytush Ohlone land in San Francisco.
Maria Stamas is an energy justice attorney and strategist dedicated to advancing a just transition toward a regenerative economy. She has spent the last decade as a lawyer and program director advocating before local governments, agencies, and legislatures in California, and across the country, for climate and energy solutions that simultaneously promote economic, health, and racial justice. Maria’s work in California together with the California Energy Efficiency for All coalition led to securing ~$250 million in new funds for affordable housing energy upgrade programs. Maria holds a law degree and master’s in Energy & Resources from UC Berkeley. She lives on unceded Chochenyo Ohlone land in Oakland, California.
A note of gratitude
Our labor to produce this work was funded by the Energy Foundation. We are deeply grateful to Shannon Small, Gentry Higgins, and Sierra Martinez for their generous support for small teams with big ideas. We consulted many frontline energy justice leaders across the country to develop this work and this would not be possible without their wisdom and generosity. Their guidance significantly influenced this workbook’s contents, while all factual errors are solely ours.