isaac sevier wants utility justice

I’m an energy engineer, policy advocate, organizer, and strategy advisor for systems change.

Housing, water, and clean energy should be provided for all people in an overheating world. This principle and my perspectives as a queer immigrant shape my work.

I am currently developing my next contribution to the overlapping movements for public power, building electrification, and healthy housing. I am a member of the Climate and Community Project and a founding board member of the Equitable Building Electrification Fund.

From 2022 to 2023, I developed then co-directed the People’s Utility Commons, a collaborative project that published a utility justice and energy democracy curriculum for scaling movement capacity from the ground up.

In 2021, I was part of the democratic, frontline-led design and launch of the Equitable Building Electrification Fund with the support of Kresge Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, The Summit Foundation, and Emerald Cities Collaborative.

Since 2017, I have advanced policy and movement infrastructure directly with Initiative for Energy Justice at Northeastern University School of Law, Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, California Green New Deal Coalition, NEWHAB, Energy Efficiency for All in California, The Greenlining Institute, Energy Democracy Project, Energy Equity Project, Justice40 Accelerator, Energy Foundation, and others not listed.

I have instructed courses and provided guest lectures on energy policy and justice at Stanford University, the University of California, the University of Michigan, and the University of Notre Dame.

By request, I advise on strategies to build collective power and win local, state, and federal policy for democratic control of our built environment.

What's on my mind…

29 Nov 2023 Reflecting on Writing a Utility Justice Curriculum With movement support, this curriculum has been taught in person with nearly 100 activists and organizers across the country. We previewed the curriculum back in May with environmental and economic justice organizers in Detroit, and this fall they rolled out their own version in a community-facing series. Other organizers produced a podcast episode with their take on the history after we worked through the curriculum together in May.

29 Nov 2023 A Utility Justice Reading List Spanning utility history, economic theory, analysis of structural racism, and practical guides to organizing for utility justice going forward, this reading list is a deeper introduction for anyone using the People’s Utility Commons curriculum or anyone who wants to learn more about utility justice in a reading group.

11 Sep 2023 We Need Public Power for Energy Equity We have to expand public ownership of the electricity system rapidly and comprehensively. With more than one-quarter of all U.S. households currently experiencing deep energy insecurity, the requirement of private utilities to produce competitive profits for their investments is fundamentally opposed to the equally urgent tasks of resisting energy apartheid and greening our buildings and the power sector.

17 May 2023 Building Decarbonization has a Natural Gas Pipeline Problem In current policy and investment strategy, building decarbonization is treated primarily as an appliance swapping project. This micro-approach misses the systemic nature of the reduction of natural gas demand explicit in the swap: drawing down demand is ultimately a natural gas pipeline network decommissioning project.

12 Jan 2023 Los Angeles Joins France to Ban Utility Shutoffs Permanently In December 2022, Los Angeles organizers won a multi-year fight against utility debt and for utility shutoffs within the largest public utility in the country, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which serves over 4 million households and businesses in its service territory. With this definitional change in shutoff policy, governance at the U.S.’s largest public utility provider now more closely resembles the strong protections in place for people using EDF, France’s nationwide and publicly owned and operated electric utility.

See all my Notes.