Centering the Community in the Clean Energy Transition 

April 11, 2023

Chicago skyline at night image
By Eric Dresselhuys, CEO

Last week, I joined energy industry leaders in Austin, Texas for the 10th Energy Thought Summit (ETS). ETS is an event that attracts innovators from across the energy value chain for a week of in-depth dialogue about the big challenges ahead in the clean energy transition. 

This year, in conversation after conversation, the importance of community engagement and involvement came up consistently. Attendees were focused on not only deploying cutting edge technology, but on ensuring that the clean energy economy will work for everyone. 

At ESS, delivering clean energy technology that provides broad benefits is what we do. We made an intentional choice to manufacture our long-duration energy storage systems in the United States and leverage a predominantly American supply chain, delivering economic benefits to communities nationwide. Our products are safe to site in populated areas, improving grid resilience and reducing emissions in communities while avoiding the risks of fire or toxicity associated with some other battery technologies, which is particularly important as we work to meet the needs of historically underserved communities.  

While in Austin, I had the opportunity to sit down with Paul Lau, CEO of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) on the ETS main stage.” We discussed the range of impressive community outreach and engagement initiatives that SMUD has undertaken to support their ambitious 2030 Clean Energy Vision, an industry-leading plan to eliminate carbon emissions in the utility’s energy supply by 2030. 

The key takeaway was that SMUD, long a leader in innovation, has transcended the idea of simply being good at delivering electricity, understanding that what they do drives the success of the entire Sacramento region. By building sustainable and responsible infrastructure, SMUD’s investments pay dividends to the community in the form of economic development, employment opportunities and vitality for all. 

That’s one of the reasons we are excited about our partnership with SMUD. With deliveries set to begin this year, ESS systems fit perfectly into a vision not only for clean energy, but for safe, sustainable and prosperous communities. With up to 2 GWh of long-duration storage, this project has the potential for real impact over coming decades. 

To enable that sustainable economic opportunity in Sacramento, our partnership with SMUD goes one step further: As a part of our agreement, we will work with SMUD and local educational institutions to develop training programs for workers interested in energy storage technology. This will enable the city to become not only a model for clean energy infrastructure, but a center of excellence in clean technology workforce development and training.  

 Combating climate change and decarbonizing the grid are daunting challenges, but there is a lot of exciting work underway to meet them. Working with people like Paul and organizations like SMUD gives me confidence we can get this done.  I look forward to next year when we gather again to share our progress and hear updates from other innovators and leaders driving the clean energy transition forward.  

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