IU Study: Renewable Energy Negatively Affects Some Populations

May 11, 2018

There are a lot of benefits that come with renewable energy — cleaner air, better water, and fewer health problems — but for some people, there are also drawbacks. A new study looks into who is affected by the switch to renewables. 

Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs professor David Konisky co-authored the report published this week. He says the transition to renewable energy can affect different people in different ways.

Higher electric bills might hurt low-income folks. More wind power could cause coal miners to lose their jobs.

“Indiana has been a lagger in terms of transition to cleaner sources, but the transition is coming and when it hits Indiana, those communities will be sort of on the front lines in terms of feeling the effects,” says Konisky.

Konisky says the point of the study is to inform policymakers so that they can help soften the blow through things like job programs or weatherizing homes.

“It would go a long way if we involve individuals who are affected in these conversations and we begin to plan for them in advance," he says. "I think if we did that, we might be able to sort of diminish some of the resistance we see.”

Konisky and his team plan to research how local and state governments can help vulnerable communities and what assistance is already available.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.