March 11, 2021

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, Pacific Time

ACS Bay Area: What the Heck Happened in Texas? Why Energy Regulation is a Climate, Disability, and Racial Justice Issue

The humanitarian catastrophe in Texas -- which left millions without electricity, heat, or even water in record cold temperatures and resulted in the deaths of dozens -- made clear how vulnerable our electricity grid is and how much economic regulation of that grid matters. It was also many people's first introduction to the acronyms ERCOT, FERC, and PUC. Most of the decisions that will determine whether the U.S. can meet its Paris Accord goals, whether our grid can handle the climate destabilization that has already begun, and which communities will bear the costs and risks of energy generation are being made by regulatory bodies (and non-governmental orgs) that are obscure even to most lawyers. 

Join the ACS Bay Area, At-Large, Austin, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nashville, New Orleans, and San Diego Lawyer Chapters for a chance to learn from energy regulation experts why grid and utility economics are racial, disability, and climate justice issues, and what progressive advocates are doing to decarbonize the grid while protecting access to electricity for vulnerable households and individuals.


Ari Peskoe, Director of the Electricity Law Initiative at the Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program. He has written extensively about electricity regulation, on issues ranging from Constitutional challenges to states’ energy laws to federal regulation of distributed energy resources.

Elena Saxonhouse, Senior Attorney with the Beyond Coal Campaign of the Sierra Club. Since 2010, Elena has supported the campaign's work to retire existing coal plants in Texas and Michigan, providing strategic direction and coordination as well as representing the Club in litigation. Elena also manages the Environmental Law Program’s efforts to ensure government transparency and accountability through strategic use of the Freedom of Information Act.

Khalil Shahyd, Senior Policy Advisor at Natural Resources Defense Council. Focuses on federal policy and national strategies that create just solutions for environmental and climate crises—specifically by integrating clean energy and energy efficiency with affordable housing and community development. He has more than 20 years of experience in community and economic justice organizing, planning, and policy advocacy. He has worked on just, sustainable development in urban and rural settings domestically and abroad in Mexico, India, and Brazil. 

Kim Smaczniak, Managing Attorney of the Clean Energy Program. Based in Washington, D.C., she leads Earthjustice’s work to accelerate our transition to 100% clean energy and ensure everyone benefits from a thriving clean energy economy. Under the Obama Administration, Kim served as lead mitigation negotiator for the U.S. Department of State climate negotiations team, shaping strategies to ensure rapid implementation of the Paris Agreement and deepen U.S. engagement in support of climate mitigation.

Moderated by:

Megan Wachspress, Staff Attorney, Sierra Club; Member, ACS Bay Area Lawyer Chapter Board of Directors