Discourses of energy democracy are now circulating throughout grassroots movements, trade unions, universities and policy circles. Meanwhile, community-run energy co-operatives are proliferating rapidly, cities are reversing privatisation by taking gas and electricity back under municipal control, and in some countries like Uruguay, national governments are showing leadership in pushing democratic low-carbon transition.
The advent of left electoral projects across Europe now demands a rapid concretisation of the energy democracy project. With progressive policy-makers and ministers seeking new energy pathways fast, we need clear answers to difficult questions, from financing options, to new models of public management, to industrial conversion strategies.
This new report – Strategies of Energy Democracy – clarifies the state of existing debates with the aim of opening up new questions and possibilities, while paving the way towards a clearer direction of travel. Moving forward, it is argued, will require a careful consideration of questions of politics and power. Who currently calls the shots over energy transition? How might existing power relations be transformed in our favour? And who are we referring to in an assumption of a unified “our” or “we” of a movement for energy democracy? By offering a start on answering such questions – and by summarising existing discussions around narrative, scale, ownership, finance, energy poverty and just transition – this report should serve as a resource for activists and scholars interested in crafting socially just and democratic low-carbon energy transitions.