Since the 1990s, there has been an upsurge in renewable electricity co-operatives across Canada as hundreds of community organizations have turned to the sun, wind, and rivers as sources of local power generation. Empowering Electricity offers an illuminating analysis of these co-operatives 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.
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.
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.