New energy sources

A.D. What if a few energy activists in Massachusetts had a vision in the mid-1990s? What if cities, towns, and groups of individuals could buy cleaner and cheaper energy rather than electricity from a single utility company?

A small group of activists – including a journalist, the head of a non-profit organization, a local county official, and an aide to the legislature – drafted a model law passed by the state senate in 1995. They tried again in 1997. Massachusetts lawmakers were busy drafting legislation to improve the state’s energy industry in another way, and by this time activists had incorporated their low-profile policy ideas into it – only a brief summary of the article. Boston GlobeCoverage of the account.

Today, this idea, commonly referred to as Community Election (CCA), is used by about 36 million people in the United States, or 11 percent of the population. Locals, as a group, are collectively buying power, and more than 1,800 communities have received CCA in six states, while others are testing CCA pilot programs. CCA has become a big issue since such a small start.

“It’s been a while, and it has had a huge impact,” said David Husu, an associate professor of energy policy at MIT. In fact, CCA’s direction is so impressive that Hsu explores its origins, combining different archive sources and interviewing principals. He now examines the teachings and implications of this section and publishes a journal article.

Criticism of the paper, “The Origin of the Crisis and the Expansion of the Commonwealth and the Expansion to Other Territories” from the Cape Code, is already in its online form. Energy Research and Social ScienceAnd in the April issue of The Watchtower.

“I wanted to show people that small ideas can lead to big things,” Hussein said. “For me, that is a very promising democratic story.

Environmental control

Gathering consumers was not uncommon in the 1990’s. Companies in many industries have joined forces to buy energy. And Rhode Island recently tested a type of CCA before Massachusetts.

However, the most widely accepted Massachusetts model is that cities or towns may require energy purchases, say, renewable sources, but individuals can opt out of these agreements. Additional state funding (such as efficiency improvement) will also be transferred to cities and towns.

Either way, CCA policies provide greater environmental control over energy supply. They have been adopted in California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio. Meanwhile, Maryland, New Hampshire and Virginia have recently passed similar laws (also known as municipal or state assembly, or community election energy).

For cities and towns, Hussein says, “You may not have the full control of the power system, but let’s eliminate one specific function of consumption, which is procurement.

That vision inspired some Massachusetts activists and policymakers in the 1990s, including journalist Scott Ridlin, who spent years contemplating ways to reorganize the 1986 book “Struggle for Power” with Massachusetts University historian Richard Rudolph. Power system; Environmental Non-Profit Chairman Matt Patrick, who focuses on energy efficiency; Rob Olivier, local authority on Cape Code in Barnstabble County; And Paul Fen, an assistant senator who heads the Legislative Energy Committee.

“It started with these political activists,” Husu said.

His study emphasizes many lessons because the law first failed in 1995, before it unexpectedly passed in 1997. Ridley has been a writer and public figure. Patrick and Olivier each were finally elected to the state legislature, but only after 2000. And Fenn left his workplace in 1995 and worked with the team over long distances in California (becoming a long-time lawyer for the case). Thus, by the time the CCA passed in 1997, none of its major supporters had a foothold in state politics. How did he succeed?

The teachings of the law

First, Hussein believes that the legislative process is similar to what the political theory John Kingdon calls the “multi-stream framework,” in which “many policy-making processes are varied, subtle, and uncertain.” The law is not entirely controlled by large donors or other interest groups, and “policy makers” can achieve success through unpredictable opportunities.

“It’s the most realistic theory of life,” says Hsu.

Second, Hussein emphasizes, it is important to find partners. In the case of CCA, that comes in a few ways. Many cities in Massachusetts have a city-level legislature known as the City Council. Activists have forced those cities to make non-binding decisions based on community choice. Olivier helped set up a county council in Barnstable County, but Patrick came up with an energy plan. At that time, high electricity tariffs affected all Cape Cod, which served as an economic benefit for Cape Code position-industry workers. The activists also appealed to lawmakers to add an article to the 1997 edition, which would have supported the CCA if all of their voters were not involved.

“You have to stick with it, and you have to look for partners,” Hussein said. “It’s nice to hear them. [the activists] Talk about going to town meetings and how you tried to build basic support. You can do things if you want partners. [I hope] The public can see. [themselves] Even if they are not the same as you in other people’s activities.

A.D. In 1997, CCA law had more geographical support, understood it as an economic and environmental benefit to voters, and did not require membership. The activists, while giving media interviews, and holding conferences, received more attention on the principle of citizen choice.

“I’m amazed at how well the speakers talk. [citizen] It ensures the success of elections and democratic talks, ”he said. Legislators feel that everyone should have a choice. And it shows the common interest of the resources that the resources are being monopolized.

He added: “Instead of just taking the system for granted and trying to explain the 150-year-old principles, we need to develop principles that shape the system.

The last part of the CCA pass was a good time. The Massachusetts governor and legislator want a “big deal” to restructure the electricity supply and ease utility bills. CCA is part of this larger reform movement. Still, CCA adoption has been slow; Only one-third of Massachusetts have accepted with the CCA in the last five years.

The growth of the CCA does not mean that it will not be able to thwart consumer-backed opposition efforts – “there has been a strong push in California,” Hassu said. Once again, Hussein said that the fact that only a handful of activists could launch a national energy policy movement could make a difference in everyone’s work.

“They did not charge the fence, but they found a way around it,” said Hussein. “I want my students to know that you can organize and rethink the future. It takes some commitment and a long time to work.


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