"The world stands on the cusp of a massive shift from fossil fuels to clean electricity, but many are worried that the transition won't be fair. Already, electric cars and efficient heating technologies are showing up disproportionately in wealthy neighborhoods.
The U.S. faced a very similar problem almost a century ago with electricity, the energy revolution of that time. Most cities had been electrified by the 1930s, but many rural areas had not, because private electric companies saw little profit in string wires down lonely country roads.
"We wanted to have electricity, but it was not available," recalled Alvin Morrison, a farmer in central North Carolina. He recounted his experience in 1984 for an oral history of rural electrification.
A small town seven miles away had electricity, so three men from Morrison's community went to talk to the electric company there, called Duke Power. The company offered to extend their power lines out to a main road close to some of the farmers. According to Morrison, the delegation then asked Duke's executives, " 'Will you serve the entire community?' They said, 'No.' And the wealthy farmers living on the road, who could have gotten it, would not accept it. They said, 'If you don't serve the entire community, we won't have it.' " "