Recovery and Resilience Takes a Village

Part 1 – Exploring Collaboration in Energy Resilience Projects

How Local Governments are Collaborating Across Boundaries, Agencies, and Sectors to Act on Climate Change

With thanks to Angie Hacker and Gabriela Yamhure for researching and writing this piece for CURRENTS.

Just when we dared to hope we were out of the woods and onto recovery, variants, wildfires, and storms have reminded us that we’ll be facing ongoing “outbreaks” and the “long haul effects” – of both the pandemic and the climate crisis – for years to come. 

Amid this constant disruption, local governments are trying to pave the road to greater resilience, and we can’t afford to go it alone. In order to continue tackling energy and climate goals – among other pressing community needs – it will be more necessary than ever to work effectively alongside other local agencies, regional bodies, community-based organizations, universities, utilities, and nonprofit and for- profit service providers. With less than 30 years to get to net-zero emissions and keep under 1.5 degrees celsius of global warming (according to the IPCC), we need all hands on deck.  

Meanwhile, state and federal agencies are making important decisions about how to allocate and implement major investments to support local and regional energy and climate action. As programs like the Strategic Growth Council’s Regional Climate Collaboratives program, OPR’s Community Economic Resilience Fund, the CPUC’s Microgrid Incentive Program, and decarbonization initiatives proposed in the Governors’ 2022-2023 budget are being developed,  important questions are being raised about how to leverage more collaboration throughout the state to achieve better outcomes in emission reductions, equity, and economic recovery. These discussions elevate the need for greater clarity around what roles local governments and other community partners should play. 

This paper is the first of a 3-part series exploring timely examples of how local governments can achieve energy and climate goals by forming or supporting collaborations across agencies, sectors, and jurisdictional boundaries. The three parts do so by evaluating three types of local energy and climate initiatives, all of which typically demand cross- agency and cross- sector collaboration: 

  1. Energy Resilience Projects (this paper)
  2. Electrification Plans 
  3. Regional Climate Collaboratives

The final paper will also summarize key learnings, themes, and relevant literature about the roles local governments are uniquely suited to play, among their partners, in energy and climate initiatives. We hope this preliminary analysis can begin to help communities, as well state and federal governments, make the most of their investments in energy and climate action.