When I joined the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 2021 as the nation’s first-ever Deputy Director for Energy Justice, I was excited to take on the mantle of ensuring justice and equity in the emerging clean energy economy for all Americans—particularly those left behind by the legacies of racism, inequitable policies, and discriminatory investments. But I am even more thrilled today to report that the newly renamed Office of Energy Justice and Equity (EJE) has increased our number of full-time employees from 37, when I first arrived, to more than 100. This growth reflects the ongoing commitment of the Biden-Harris Administration to energy justice and tackling the climate crisis through equity-centered solutions. 

In 2023, our office received the highest level of funding since its inception in 1978. This milestone demonstrates not only the administration’s commitment, but also the Department’s commitment to advancing energy justice and equity in the clean energy transition. This Congressional funding also provides much needed resources for implementing the Justice40 Initiative. It gives EJE critical resources to advance a just and equitable energy transition. 

The structure and design of the current energy system has created inequities and injustices that fall disproportionally on impoverished communities, Indigenous communities, and Black and Brown communities. We must do better, and the energy transition DOE is stewarding provides a once-in-a-century opportunity to advance transformative justice. The Office of Energy Justice and Equity fights every day to ensure that every American has an opportunity to participate fully in DOE programs and initiatives. Moreover, EJE is committed to assisting marginalized people and communities to fully realize the benefits of the emerging clean energy economy of the 21st century. That means cleaner air, access to low-cost and cleaner energy resources, and high-paying jobs. 

I am thrilled to report on the progress our office has made toward advancing our environmental justice and equity goals. 

From providing workshops on Community Benefits Plans during our Energy Justice to the People Roadshow, to hosting thousands of people virtually and in Washington, D.C. for our second annual DOE Justice Week, to standing up a historic Inflation Reduction Program designed to deliver clean energy and economic benefits to low-income communities, to developing sensitivity training for DOE program managers and contractors working with Native or Tribal communities, to funding dozens of minority students in summer STEM internships, and providing funding to community-based organizations in Puerto Rico to support resilience, 2023 was a busy year. I am so proud of the EJE staff and external community members we partner with every day.  

Please join me in celebrating all that we have accomplished in 2023 with our year in review blog featured below. There’s a lot to be proud of, and we will continue to focus on helping DOE prioritize equity and place-based strategies in our investments to model a clean energy transition that delivers real benefits to frontline communities—especially those historically impacted by the legacy of pollution and environmental injustice.  

Thank you to everyone who made 2023 such a stellar year of accomplishments, and I look forward to EJE’s continued progress throughout 2024.  

Onward. 

Shalanda H. Baker    

Director of the Office of Energy Justice and Equity, Secretarial Advisor on Equity, and Chief Diversity Officer 

2023 Year in Review 

Energy and Environmental Justice 

  • Awarded nearly $1 million to strengthen community energy resilience for Puerto Rico by supporting community-led development of renewable energy systems and energy resilience in vulnerable communities. 
  • Published the Environmental Justice Scorecard. EJE helped coordinate the response for the department and interface with the Office of Management and Budget and Council on Environmental Quality as part of its research efforts and tool development to advance energy and environmental justice. This is related to the Justice40 and Environmental Justice efforts that can afford all Americans—particularly disadvantaged minorities—an opportunity to participate fully in DOE programs, grants, and loan guarantees. 
  • Collaborated with national labs and the Sustainable Horizons Institute to identify best practices for workforce development, particularly among underrepresented groups in high-performance computing, and published a paper in the Journal for Computational Science Education.  
  • Joined several DOE offices to create an equity Earthshot—Affordable Home Energy Shot™ initiative—which sets a bold target to reduce the cost of decarbonizing affordable homes by at least 50%, and decrease residents’ energy costs by at least 20% within a decade.  
  • Launched Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit Program and began accepting applications. This program, supported by the Inflation Reduction Act, addresses the need to expand access to cost-saving clean energy projects in underserved communities through a groundbreaking tax incentive for solar and wind projects across the country. The historic program (jointly led by the Departments of Energy, Treasury, and the Internal Revenue Service), supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 commitments to equity and environmental justice and represents the most significant tax incentive in U.S. history to promote clean energy investments in low-income communities, on Tribal Land, and within affordable housing. 

Justice40 Initiative 

  • Published DOEs Justice40 implementation guidance that provides essential technical assistance for implementation across all DOE programs.  
  • Released the Justice40 model, co-developed with Lawrence Berkley National Lab, which identifies an optimal portfolio of policy interventions that decision makers can use to mitigate energy insecurity in specific populations. The model assesses what technology mix could help reduce household energy burdens in a defined region.  
  • Awarded a competitive solicitation to Illume to conduct an initial evaluation of three DOE Justice40 programs and their achievements towards meeting DOE’s eight Justice40 policy priorities involved in decreasing energy burdens for underserved, marginalized, or disadvantaged communities. 

Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach 

Minority Programs 

  • Launched DOE STEM, a new collaborative effort to share, improve, and increase accessibility to all DOE has to offer for the training, education, and engagement of students, educators, professionals, and skilled workers. EJE hosted six workshops on “How to Prepare a Quality Funding Application,” offered to minority-serving institutions’ (MSI) faculties to share the Department’s STEM resources. EJE also developed an informational workshop for MSIs to promote greater participation from underrepresented institutions. 
  • Awarded a grant totaling approximately $6.3 million to Black Owners of Solar Services. The cooperative agreement establishes a regional effort to coordinate and train minority-owned businesses on how to apply for DOE funding and access DOE programs, benefits, services, and opportunities.   
  • Coordinated the investment of more than $752,000 to provide work experience for students from minority-serving institutions through the competitive Minority Educational Institutions Student Partnership Program, a summer internship program. Students came from 20 states, including the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Student selections consisted of 43 undergraduate students, 13 graduate students, and seven American Indian or Alaskan Native students. Out of 16 students who were offered extensions, 14 accepted. 

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Action Plan Implementation 

  • Coordinated and conducted the first DOE-wide DEIA Employee Resource Group (ERG) Summit. More than 150 federal employees and contractors, including Chief Diversity Officers and ERG stakeholders of all levels from 14 National Labs and four power administrations, as well as DOE headquarters staff, attended the two-day event in person. More than 20 training sessions were offered over two days, with main room sessions broadcast to an additional 130 virtual attendees. 
  • Launched the DEIA Fundamentals for Supervisors Course, a custom-curated training of 10 modules and two hours of content, and achieved a 78% completion rate from supervisors across the DOE.  
  • Rolled out a year-long DEIA Practitioners’ training series facilitated by the Strategy Consulting Team in Summer 2023, with a cohort of 50 employees enrolled. 
  • Co-hosted the first ever DOE Accessibility Summit with more than 100 DOE employees from across the enterprise attending to celebrate the start of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The Accessibility Summit continued throughout October, offering 12 virtual sessions on a broad range of topics concerning accessibility in the workplace. Additional event partners included the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the Office of Environment, Health, Safety and Security, and the SOAR ERG. 

Civil Rights and Equal Employment Opportunity  

  • Realigned the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint process from 12 field-site/Power Marketing Administration locations and the EEO affirmative employment program from six field-site locations, under the leadership of the Office of Civil Rights and Equal Employment Opportunity (OCR-EEO), to streamline the EEO complaint processes and leverage resources and best practices. 
  • Developed a dashboard that streamlines access to data for OCR-EEO social scientists for the conduct of rigorous EEO barrier analysis. The system was designed and developed as an integrated analytics dashboard that contains Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey data, high-level EEO complaint data, and cross-sectional DOE workforce demographics data.  The dashboard is in its second phase of testing and will be available for use by EEO Managers across the DOE complex by the end of the year. 
  • Launched an external civil rights Technical Assistance (TA) Program to educate recipients of DOE financial assistance and DOE Elements on the non-discrimination requirements of federal civil rights laws, regulations, and related Executive Orders. This resulted in the deployment of eight TA sessions to external audiences and seven TA sessions to DOE audiences, as well as the delivery of a Title VI and Environmental Justice (EJ) Workshop for DOE’s EJ Working Group.