Tuesday, November 14, 2023
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Leaving Communities of Color in the Dark: Rotating Outages in California Create Energy and Social Injustices
Session ID
A4 - Lightning: Equity
Equity & Empowerment
Isa Ferrall-Wolf

This research examines the extent to which communities across California were differentially affected by the heat-wave-provoked rotating power outages in Fall 2020 viewed through lenses of distributive and procedural justice. We find statistically significant and severe energy injustices across racial and ethnic lines. Across different decision-making levels of rotating outage planning and implementation we find higher proportions of the population self-identifying as Asian, Hispanic, and Black. While eligibility speaks more to injustices surrounding population dynamics and access to essential infrastructure, notification and suspected experience reveal energy inequities unexplained by other compounding factors, and which place disproportionate burdens on some communities of color. These types of outages are meant to be ‘short and shared,’ so while mitigating factors such as income and health are also observed, strong racial signatures are of concern. These outages are implemented by regulated agencies acting in the general public’s interest to avoid grid-wide brownouts, therefore, there are immediate policy implications to ensure equitable decision- making during future climate disasters.