Empowering Electricity
276 pages, 6 x 9
29 tables
Release Date:15 Jan 2017
Release Date:15 Jun 2016
Release Date:13 Jul 2016
Release Date:13 Jul 2016

Empowering Electricity

Co-operatives, Sustainability, and Power Sector Reform in Canada

UBC Press

Canada is known for being an energy-producing nation – with much attention being paid to the Alberta tar sands and their large carbon footprint. This book looks at a very different part of the Canadian energy sector: the hundreds of renewable energy co-ops that have sprung up across the nation. These co-ops are democratically structured, community-based organizations that use sun, wind, rivers, tides, and plant and animal waste as sources of local power generation.

Empowering Electricity offers an illuminating analysis of these co-ops within the context of larger debates over climate change, renewable electricity policy, sustainable community development, and provincial power-sector ownership. It looks at the conditions that led to this new wave of co-operative development, examines their form and location, and shines a light on the promises and challenges accompanying their development.

This analysis of electricity co-ops in Canada will interest industry experts, policy makers, sustainability advocates, community development leaders, and students.

Empowering Electricity is an empirically-grounded contribution to the literature on citizen engagement and energy policy in Canada. In particular, it provides a fresh take on BC energy politics that gets beyond the entrenched public/private dichotomy to explore one possible middle ground. While MacArthur implies that electricity co-operatives have the potential to erode public power in BC, her suggestion of co-operatives partnering with municipalities and First Nations may actually offer a new, politically viable approach to public power develpment that is both more democratic and locally acceptable than the current model. Nichole Dusyk, BC Studies
Julie MacArthur’s timely analysis of electricity co-operatives provides essential information that should influence future discussions about climate change, greenhouse gas mitigation, energy security, and renewable energy in this country. José Etcheverry, professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University

Julie L. MacArthur is a lecturer in politics and international relations and in the Master of Public Policy program at the University of Auckland, where she teaches environmental politics and public policy. She is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on community participation in renewable energy systems. Her work has been published by Monthly Review, International Journal, Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, the International Handbook of Environment and Social Policy, and by Oxford Bibliographies in Political Science.

Preface and Acknowledgments


1 A Climate for Change

2 Governing Sustainability: From Crisis to Empowerment

3 Co-operatives in Canadian Political Economy

4 International Forces for Power-Sector Restructuring

5 Continental, Private, and Green(er)? Canadian Electricity Restructuring

6 Electricity Co-operatives: The Power of Public Policy

7 Off the Ground and on the Grid: New Electricity Co-operative Development

8 Co-operative Networks and the Politics of Community Power

9 Empowering Electricity






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