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A transition is starting throughout the nation as renewable energy resources are developed and older fossil-fuel facilities retire. The communities that bear the brunt of fossil-fuel pollution will also likely bear this transition’s economic impacts. Yet, there is no guarantee that these communities will share in the transition’s economic benefits—in particular, the building, operation, and ownership of new renewable energy resources. Renewable energy laws generally do not consider these types of impacts when determining where to site new resources.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in a case involving Native Americans in Arizona affected by the operations and closure of a recently retired coal-fired power plant, developed a novel plan to generate a revenue stream from a closed power plant to assist an impacted community with a transition to renewable energy. The CPUC’s decision provides an important roadmap for other states to consider communities impacted by the operation and closure of fossil fuel facilities as the energy grid transitions into green resources.


Originally published in the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology. Posted with permission.