Community, the very idea!: perspectives of participants in a demand-side community energy project

Burchell, K., Rettie, R. and Roberts, T.C. 2014. Community, the very idea!: perspectives of participants in a demand-side community energy project. People, Place and Policy. 8 (3), pp. 168-179. doi:10.3351/ppp.0008.0003.0003

TitleCommunity, the very idea!: perspectives of participants in a demand-side community energy project
AuthorsBurchell, K., Rettie, R. and Roberts, T.C.
Abstract

Although community action on energy is now championed by both government and grassroots actors, it has a more ambiguous place in social science commentaries. While the strengths of community action are often said to lie in its collective, local and independent nature, evocations of power relations and conflict are also often present in social science analyses of community-owned renewables schemes. In this brief paper, we examine the meanings of community and community action from the perspective of participants in a demand-side community energy project. Understanding these meanings – particularly the ways they might differ from those in mainstream discourses and in work on the supply-side – is an important issue for policy and practice. Smart Communities was a demand-side, community action project on energy consumption reduction (2011-2013). Drawing on the principles of action research, our analysis is based upon 35 interviews with project participants and experiences during the project action. In Smart Communities, some familiar ambiguities emerged around the collective connotations of community. However, the notions of a local and non-commercial project were widely valued by participants; in particular, these rendered the project more authentic and trustworthy. Particularly in the context of demand-side action in which widespread local participation is important, these findings suggest that there is value in policy-makers and grassroots practitioners engaging with the nuanced reality of community and community action. In addition, the findings raise questions about the UK government’s vision for greater commercial collaboration in community energy, and the central role of the private sector in other energy demand reduction policies (such as the Green Deal and the Smart Meter roll-out).

KeywordsCommunity energy, demand-side, community action, local, non-commercial
JournalPeople, Place and Policy
Journal citation8 (3), pp. 168-179
ISSN1753-8041
Year2014
PublisherPeople, Place and Policy
Publisher's versionburchell, rettie & roberts (2014) community-the-very-idea.pdf
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.3351/ppp.0008.0003.0003
Web address (URL)http://extra.shu.ac.uk/ppp-online/community-the-very-idea-perspectives-of-participants-in-a-demand-side-community-energy-project/
Publication dates
Published19 Dec 2014
LicenseCC BY 4.0

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