On the evening of 22 January 2018, the Governor of Puerto Rico announced the complete privatisation of the island’s power utility. The public statement came four months after hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devastated the archipelago leaving thousands of people homeless or dead and over 40 percent of the population without access to electricity and running water. Puerto Rico’s energy system was crumbling long before the tropical weather systems of September 2017 hit the archipelago. The hurricanes only laid bare the unsustainable conditions of the extremely expensive and fossil fuel-generated electrical power regime.
In May 2015, the party Por Cádiz Sí Se Puede (the local version of Podemos) took over the government of Cádiz, inheriting a situation of massive debt, widespread energy waste, severe unemployment, energy poverty, and a lack of public awareness around energy issues. In just a few years, however, Cádiz has celebrated a number of concrete results.
The growing call for the feminisation of politics – and energy politics for that matter – is about much more than merely increasing the representation of women in decision-making positions. We need to question the ways energy politics are shaped. We need to ask, energy for whom and energy for what?
While countries all over the world review their nuclear energy plans and safety measures in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, the Indian government still pushes ahead with it's fiercely opposed Jaitapur plant.
The Japanese crisis is a wake up call for India, which is currently building of one of the world's largest nuclear power plants at Jaitapur, despite massive popular protest. When such a disaster can occur in an industrially advanced country like Japan, India, whose atomic agency is notorious for its poor safety standards, needs to rethink its nuclear ambitions.
One of the first case studies on the website of energydemocracy.net is the city of Boulder, USA. Driven by a commitment to meet its climate goals, Boulder first sought to push its private investor-owned utility, Xcel Energy, to embrace a radical transition to low-carbon energy. The reluctance and obfuscation of Xcel led the city to develop plans for a municipal energy utility, which the city has continued to push forward in the face of legal challenges and misinformation campaigns.
In 2012, citizens from Highland Park, Michigan came together to form Soulardarity in response to the repossession of over 1,000 streetlights from their city. Their goal is to organise for community-owned solar street lights, energy production and equitable development. Since its formation, Soulardarity has installed seven solar streetlights and deployed over US$ 30,000 worth of solar technology in Highland Park and the surrounding communities through the PowerUP bulk purchasing programme. The group has also organised advocacy at the city and state levels for regulation, policy and local political leadership to support community ownership, transparency and environmental responsibility.
Soulardarity also advocates for a Community Ownership Power Administration (COPA) as part of the growing call in the United States for a Green New Deal to tackle climate change, economic inequality and racial injustice.
When citizens are left out of debates confined to government and the business community, the only means of influencing policy is to petition, protest, or litigate, usually after the horse has bolted. Will fracking be the latest technology introduced without any public debate?
Prime Minister Modi's government has frozen the bank accounts of Greenpeace India, part of a wider campaign against 'anti-national' movements that challenge India's development policies based on the aggressive exploitation of coal, minerals, big hydro and nuclear power.
We often use the term "Commons" to explain, that we aim at transforming our societal organization. But which realistic concepts do we have at hand to regain the control over our energy system? We need to ask the question of ownership: Shall the energy system pass into public ownership? Shall we fight for it on all levels, at the municipal, regional and national level?