Every Community Needs a Backup Power Supply
A community backup power supply is a community-organized mutual-aid group where people work together to provide backup batteries during power emergencies. Networks of this kind provide an efficient way for communities to manage and share energy resources in times of need.
Power shut-offs have become common occurrences in states across the US, from California to Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and many others. And that barely scratches the surface of global energy insecurity issues exacerbated by climate-fueled disasters. Often these shut-offs are part of a system of routine to help mitigate the impact of wildfires and extreme weather emergencies. In 2021, a severe snowstorm in Texas caused the power grid to fail statewide. Increasing hurricane damage in the Southeast and Gulf Coast wreaks havoc on the power grid. Power shut-offs have also been caused by high energy demands and as a way to balance resources. The causes of these shutoffs are as diverse as the needs. Every community could use a shared backup power source to lighten the impact of increasing climate disasters and decreasing energy access.
Members safely keep backup batteries until there is a need for power in the community. In response to power emergencies, the person in need connects with the person with the battery and arranges delivery. When the emergency passes, the person who received power will recharge the battery to share with the next person experiencing a power emergency, creating an ebb and flow of resourcing within the community.
Learn How to Create a Community Backup Power Supply
Shareable’s SolidarityWorks Co-Labs offer a learning space with step-by-step guides about how to cultivate and execute creative solutions to community crises. In partnership with People Power Solar Cooperative, we are launching a Co-Lab to support more groups in creating a Community Backup Power Supply this July. The 8-week sprint is designed to jumpstart backup power supply networks in communities across the US and internationally.
Find more about the schedule and Co-Lab offerings below:
- Schedule: July 25 – September 12
- Eight weeks of online training and support
- A comprehensive how-to guide and toolbox of processes, templates, and other resources
- Free and/or discounted batteries + materials to get you started on making your own backup power supply network
- Ongoing peer support network after the program ends
The online training program will be emergent, based on the model developed by People Power Battery Collective (a project of People Power Solar Cooperative), and will cover the following:
- Choosing members for your network
- Determining who will use your batteries (needs and capacity assessments)
- Assessing emergency and disaster scenarios (and how to be ready for when they occur)
- Determining what kind and how many batteries your network needs
- Managing and maintaining digital infrastructure, batteries, members, etc.
- Building the collective culture within your network
People Power Solar Collective
People Power Solar Cooperative was established as a Bay Area movement cooperative in 2018 to create pathways for communities to participate in the energy transition despite the lack of viable community solar policies. Rather than waiting for private utilities or corporations to do it for us, People Power With the mission to enable everyone to own and shape our energy future, People Power has a Project Group model set out in its Bylaws to create pathways for members to organize semi-autonomous energy projects that showcase that communities WANT TO and CAN own and shape our energy systems.
The People Power Battery Collective is a Project Group created in 2020 in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a self-organized, decentralized, grassroots mutual aid collective, the Battery Collective’s purpose is to provide backup power to support those who are experiencing power emergencies. Their Organizers work to facilitate a just and efficient method of managing and sharing energy resources among Participants and, by proxy, their communities.
SolidarityWorks is a new program from Shareable designed to empower communities for collective liberation. We gather change-makers, empower communities, and cultivate people-powered initiatives that fuel solidarity initiatives nationwide.
Co-labs are 2-3 month learning sprints or 12-18 month deep dives that jump-start projects built on solidarity. Co-Labs offer a supportive space with step-by-step guidance on conceptualizing and executing creative solutions to community crises, from free food pantries to backup battery collectives to rent parties.