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U.S. Task Force Uses Social Media to Build Distributed Energy Equity

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An independent task force is using social media to build a grassroots online community dedicated to improving the energy system.

“We’re here to help in any way we can, to pass on knowledge, provide context, make connections, and offer feedback,” the founders of the Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Task Force say on the organization’s website. 

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DER started in 2019 through informal meet-ups among users of the #energytwitter social media hashtag in New York City. Interest in the group quickly grew beyond the city, and the task force eventually capitalized on its social media presence to expand and accommodate a global membership, reports Canary Media. 

“It’s such a diverse community in terms of people’s professional backgrounds. The utility landscape has changed so much, and DERs can provide so much value to utility grid management today,”` said Colleen Metelitsa, a founding DER Task Force member and electric vehicle program manager at New York utility giant Con Edison.

The group is already having real-world impacts: after Hurricane Ida landed in Louisiana in August, members used Slack to brainstorm ideas for helping residents in the state. After that, DER started a GoFundMe campaign to support the non-profit Footprint Project to “provide cleaner energy for communities in crisis,” says Canary Media. The campaign was widely publicized and saw support from “a few big names in the climate and environmental space, including Bill McKibben and Gasland director Josh Fox, who was on the ground working with Footprint Project.”

Riding on its ongoing success, the DER Task Force is still looking to expand its community and empower its members. 

“We are building an engaged community that is for everyone, from those looking to join the space to those spearheading the top [distributed energy resource] companies,” said Metelitsa. “There are limitless ways to engage, and if something doesn’t exist yet, you could build it.”