New book shares ideas to create fairer energy system

By Ben Delman on November 14, 2017

People in communities across the country are joining together to fight for their energy rights. A new book, Energy Democracy: Advancing Equity in Clean Energy Solutions, tells their stories. Taken together, the book weaves a tale of how people are working across boundaries to build an energy system that benefits everyone. We at Solar United Neighbors are proud to have provided a chapter about our work to help people go solar.

“It was a blessing to get the stories of the community activists on paper,” said Denise Fairchild, CEO of the Emerald Cities Collaborative and co-editor of the book. “It is not easy to get organizers to take time from their busy schedules to write about what they are doing.”

Energy democracy is a way of thinking about energy production and consumption. It asks us to look at not just the fuel source of electricity, but who is benefited and harmed by its use. The book draws examples from a wide cross-section of the energy democracy movement. It takes us to Jackson, Mississippi where member-owners of local electric cooperatives joined together to learn about their rights and how to advocate for change. Across the country in the Bronx, New York, we learn how community groups worked with public housing and other institutions to distribute the economic benefits of energy upgrades to community members.

“Narratives and case studies are important ways to help people understand how to build the leadership, policies, and projects to build a different energy future,” Fairchild said.

In our chapter, we discuss the unique role that rooftop solar energy can play in making our electric system more democratic. We write about how bringing people together to go solar gives them a tangible stake in how energy is produced and consumed. This binds the community of solar supporters together. It also creates a force that defends peoples’ right to go solar and fight for policies that expand solar access.

We have found this community of solar supporters to be a necessary condition for building a fairer, democratic energy system. Entrenched interests are wedded to the status quo. The stories in this book provide a road map for beating them. A common thread through all the stories is that when people understand how they can benefit from a more democratic energy system, they will fight for it.

To purchase a copy of the book, visit: Use the code 4ENDEM for a 20% discount.