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Energy Policy 107 (2017) 649–657

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Energy justice at the end of the wire: Enacting community energy and MARK
equity in Wales☆
Alister Forman
Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University, 33 Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3BA, United Kingdom


Keywords: Energy justice has emerged as a useful lens for understanding and guiding energy decision-making. However,
Energy justice whilst calls for greater energy justice have grown, fleeting attention has been paid to the role and agency of the
Wales very people at the heart of this agenda. Clearly, given the increasing prevalence of local energy initiatives, such
Community energy projects warrant more sustained focus both to explore how energy justice is constructed between settings and to
prompt greater consideration of its associated outcomes. This paper seeks to address this gap by using energy
Energy ownership
Energy transitions
justice to assess local ownership of small scale energy generation through a study of the community energy
sector in Wales. In so doing, it aids greater understanding of the energy equity dimension, understood in terms
of accessibility and affordability, of the energy trilemma. From a conceptual standpoint, the research examines
how energy justice is negotiated and contested at community-scale through a focus on issues of distributive and
procedural justice. From a policy standpoint, the research shows that community energy is often involved in a
wide range of local objectives and directs attention to how best to support such initiatives to further stimulate
local action and deliver more widespread equity gains.

1. Introduction of the community energy sector in Wales. The study aids greater
understanding of the energy equity dimension, defined in terms of
Energy justice has much to offer in helping to understand the accessibility and affordability (World Energy Council, 2015), of the
complex trade-offs involved in the making of energy policy as expressed energy trilemma. This is achieved by examining local ownership as one
through the competing demands of energy security, energy equity and aspect of accessibility. For therein lies the rub: energy justice scholar-
environmental sustainability – jointly known as the energy trilemma ship has, for the largest part, paid limited attention to the ways in
(Gunningham, 2013; World Energy Council, 2015; Heffron et al., which people and communities might contribute towards an energy-
2016). With roots in environmental justice and climate justice just future from the ground-up. Whilst there is a long history of
(Walker, 2012; Schlosberg and Collins, 2014), energy justice has research that examines local participation in large-scale energy deci-
quickly gained traction and provides a critical perspective on issues sion-making (Wynne, 1982; Davies, 1984; Kraft and Clary, 1991;
of production and consumption across whole energy systems (Goldthau Morton et al., 2009), this blind-spot neglects potentially ‘important
and Sovacool, 2012; McCauley et al., 2013; Bickerstaff et al., 2013; insights into how alternative forms of what might constitute “energy
Sovacool et al., 2014; Sovacool and Dworkin, 2014; Jones et al., 2015). justice” are being established’ (Fuller and Bulkeley, 2013: 70) through
Across much of this agenda is an unashamedly normative bias for an more local and community-based engagements with our energy
energy-just world that ‘equitably shares both the benefits and burdens systems (Smith, 2012). After all, there is no shortage of such projects,
involved in the production and consumption of energy services, as well including: community energy schemes (Walker et al., 2007; Walker
as one that is fair in how it treats people and communities in energy and Devine-Wright, 2008; Hoffman and High-Pippert, 2010; Jeong
decision-making’ (Sovacool and Dworkin, 2014: 5). Energy justice thus et al., 2012; Devine-Wright and Wiersma, 2013; Strachan et al., 2015),
places renewed emphasis on the ‘human dimensions’ often margin- low-carbon communities (Heiskanen et al., 2010; Middlemiss and
alised in research into energy studies and global environmental change Parrish, 2010), and the Transition Town movement (Hopkins, 2008;
(Schlosberg, 2004; Sovacool, 2014; Castree et al., 2014). Aiken, 2012; Seyfang and Haxeltine, 2012; Grossmann and Creamer,
In this paper, I follow this approach by using energy justice to 2017). This virtual absence of a bottom-up perspective risks diminish-
assess local ownership of small scale energy generation through a study ing the role of energy-using publics to one of consultation as mere

This article is part of a Virtual Special Issue entitled 'Exploring the Energy Justice Nexus'.
E-mail address:
Received 31 December 2016; Received in revised form 30 April 2017; Accepted 4 May 2017
Available online 11 May 2017
0301-4215/ © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

McCauley et al. and parliamentarians can implement [energy justice Newell and Mulvaney.scales and provide only partial scope for understanding and capturing the full range of ways in which energy 2.. Walker et al. 2016.A. 2015. Unpacking energy justice as Chilvers and Longhurst (2016) and Walker et al.1. fuel poverty ‘corridors of power’ alone. I argue for greater ‘triumvirate of tenets’ of distributional. 2013. in this regard can be found in Sovacool and Dworkin's (2014: 358) call whilst also addressing the adverse impacts of already existing patterns for the ‘necessity of comprehensive action’. maximise benefits.. I apply this framework more traditional notion of policymakers and regulators. McCauley et al. with safe.. 2017). respect to transparency and accountability – each highly valuable and relevant within 2013. affordable and sustainable energy’ (McCauley et al. 2013) and impeding scholarship from under. 2013. 2. tional view in centralised energy systems of the space and people at the 2016b). Weick. Theoretical context systems – and the broader economies. the ongoing nature of which approach to aid greater understanding of the interaction. Jenkins et al.. As Heffron and McCauley (2014: 437) point (Sovacool. Sovacool and Scarpaci. 2016. transparency flows and currents. societies. quantitative component to measure energy justice in order to engage To develop the analysis. From a policy standpoint. 2016. 2016b) and the energy justice decision-making framework practice decision-makers higher up the tree are often privileged within (Sovacool et al..and micro. 2013: 107). Indeed. and energy system govern- private sector. such as: the politics of the whole energy system. This perspective inverts the conven. to advance energy justice at meso. and lifestyles they support and underpin – might be made more just in practice. 2017). 2012). 2016a. Sovacool their particular contexts but offering only partial scope for guiding or facilitating efforts et al. the research emphasises the ways in policy-making. 2002. 2009). This view accepts space ance (Goldthau and Sovacool. identify strategies for sharing benefits 1 As one example. Simcock and Mullen. the whole energy system (Hammond and Pearson.scales. whereas individuals.. There is a need for such an tions (Geels. Thus.. families. Jenkins et al. Energy justice thus aims to understand. Whilst this view accepts from both the ‘triumvirate of tenets’ (McCauley et al.. health (Liddell et al. due process. and The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative with respect to vulnerable and marginalised groups (Bickerstaff et al.. reifying the position of already privileged A central development of the field has been the emergence of a actors (Catney et al. 2016. interge- ted at both ends of the wire. 2013. 2014). 2016). 2. Forman Energy Policy 107 (2017) 649–657 recipients of energy justice. linking insights and consumers’ (Sovacool et al. affordability. In this view. the research such frameworks. the ‘Contemporary Applications’ of the decision-making framework and burdens in a fair way. From a conceptual standpoint. 2016). Interventions in the energy system are not restricted to the Chatterton et al. Found in organisation theory. have a crucial part to play in order to ‘provide all individuals. 2016). beyond mere consultative approaches. 2016).2. and responsibility – to be applied by decision- insights into the concept itself but also unlock potential for more makers to energy-related problems (Sovacool and Dworkin. Meadowcroft. in et al. gained traction: (a) the repackaging of the classic trivalent approach Picking up Bickerstaff et al... Heffron and McCauley. solutions] … from the “top-down”. and recognition attention to the diverse and particular forms given to energy justices justice (McCauley et al.. 2013). opening-up and extending understandings of partici- Energy justice research seeks to offer a basis for guiding action with pation with respect to energy decision-making and knowledge produc- respect to energy decision-making for policy-makers and practitioners tion.1 This issue limits the relevance of such approaches examines how energy justice is negotiated and contested at commu. Markantoni. Yenetti et al. 2013. Bednar out: ‘energy justice is concerned with social responsibility by the et al. enactment of energy justice is discussed. and reshape and resolve the externalities linked to energy systems and energy practices. These contestation of energy justice solutions in particular settings and across include issues across the whole energy system. 2015. (b) a decision-making framework in the form of a range of end of the transmission wire as simply the end-point of a system of eight principles – availability. for energy-using publics to negotiate energy justice on their own terms nity-scale through a focus on issues of distributive and procedural and for privileged actors to enable them to do so through tailored justice. and (c) an Energy Justice Metric adding a the energy trilemma.. I use Sovacool and Dworkin's (2014) more effectively with an energy policy-making environment perceived distinction between ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches for the as dominated by economic logics (Heffron et al. Jenkins the potential of action on energy justice across a range of scales. enactment of energy justice. A more helpful starting point fairness might be embedded in the context of energy system change. Such aims seek to minimise distribution of energy- related costs. energy consump- tion (Hall. 2016). procedural. 2004). 2016: 5) highlight such processes as UNFCC with respect to representative and consistent with due process. but also through the lens of community energy. 2013. 2013. to address energy-related issues across constructed in situ (Eden. for research to engage with the various ways in which energy justice is Such work aids understanding of how principles of justice. particularly with responsibility.. using data gathered over a ordinary students. the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All initiative with respect to intragenerational equity. Chard and Walker. 2014. 2012. Enacting energy justice 2016a. only partially articulated’. sustainability. (2016) have recently shown. Day et al. 2009)..and micro. within the context of a just energy transition. 2016).. at present.. 2016. the government and the public’. homeowners. Such analyses not only can reveal new nerational equity. providing scope for energy justice to be implemen. Shirani et al. Sovacool and Dworkin. of energy production and consumption (Eames and Hunt. to further stimulate local action and deliver more widespread equity it is nonetheless arguable that existing frameworks are less useful to gains. 2016. nuanced policy measures to enhance energy justice and help balance Sovacool et al. the relevance of a more open perspective on the Studies in energy justice thus complement research on energy transi. In what follows. investors twelve-month period of research in the sector in Wales. 2013). Three particular approaches have to achieve broadly similar goals (Cowell. equity and enacted by actors across a range of scales. politics and remain fairly weakly understood (Späth and Rohracher. and ensure that energy decision-making is (Sovacool et al. 2016: 1).'s (2013:7) claim that ‘an energy justice of environmental justice (Schlosberg. Yenetti and Day.. 650 . ‘Regulators. 2013. jurists. businesspersons. range of complementary frameworks to identify energy injustice(s) and standing the ways in which multiple justice perspectives may combine guide energy decision-making.. actors at meso.. enactment Within each approach.. 2013. Hards. 2015). under the auspices of the agenda is. whilst it remains important to keep in view which community energy is often involved in a wide range of local distinctions between frameworks developed for the purpose of critical objectives and directs attention to how best to support such initiatives analysis and those developed to aid decision makers in taking actions. 2016)). across all areas. intragenerational equity. 2016. policymakers. and accountability. energy extraction and production (Butler and Simmons... responsibilities for enacting energy justice is used to denote reflection and action on the environment in order to are spread across a broad understanding of decision-makers as ‘the change it (Nicholson 1995.

2004: 534) as local outlined. from the very start Ynni’r Fro emphasised the Community energy has grown in both academic and policy dis. context matters for how justice is articulated Callaghan and Williams. the embedding Wright and Wiersma. character consistent with meso-level developments (Walker and Cass. 2016).. Devine-Wright and Wiersma. Community energy as enacting energy justice ability (Welsh Government. new insights into how to balance the competing demands of communities (Walker et al. Field Setting end of the wire. 2014).. studied during fieldwork over a ground in ‘the localised. en- perspective is that idealised. 1978) and small-scale tion theory. and economic objectives. promoting social cohesion. 2016). 2017). community energy in Wales was devel- The following section outlines community energy as a form of oped mainly through the Ynni’r Fro programme. role of community-owned and developed energy generation as a tool course over the last decade as a feature of policy strategies and local for achieving a broad range of social.. enactment recognises the importance of distribution of energy services will only be accomplished by the actors choosing specific courses of action and that the ‘circumstances development of a new global energy system that is based … on people confront are malleable and multiple. Walker et al. (b) involving local partici- Bratman et al. 2014). that ensures greater In addition to extending normative ideals in refined lists of justice sensitivity to local context and improved acceptability within host principles. effectively relegated to consultative roles conferred by arbitrarily narrow interpretations of procedural justice and participation (Misa. contexts. 2015). 2007. skills contestation of energy justice in practice. Enactment thus provides a lens for understanding how This is a crucial point from the perspective of energy justice. Thus. using the abstraction from publics. 2007. whilst. 2013: policies in Wales that place a legal obligation on public sector bodies to 1112). the Welsh activity consistent with a more bottom-up approach to the enactment Government's former flagship support policy for community renewable of energy justice. Hoffman and High-Pippert. for the private sector. justice is remind us of the central nature of energy to life in contemporary not detached from the particular settings in which it is negotiated as society and the difficulties involved in separating energy out fully from though it can be readily transposed from pre-given categories and wider aims in particular settings in view of its role as a supporting normative principles. 3. Wieck. its provenance extends from more established emphasis in original). community energy is situated as both an expression of and an (2013) offer one of few contributions to suggest an active role for ‘low arena for the enactment of energy justice. In this view. as a form of ‘soft’ energy path development displaying a – to borrow from Chilvers and Longhurst (2016: 602) – always ‘in the diverse range of benefits with potentially widespread justice affects. (ERDF). 2016) or divestment from fossil fuels (Ayling and Gunningham. Whilst the literature on community.. Ynni’r Fro was the outcome of joint funding between justice-promoting potential that have largely remained untested in the the Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund literature to date. 2007. 2016b. and building autonomy actively decoded and given meaning by actors operating in particular (Hargreaves et al. before presenting results and discussion.3.. 2014. the ‘soft path’ of Lovins (1977) influential energy paths framework.. albeit still at a level of energy form the focus of the following empirical sections. and ending with ‘decision-makers’. 2013. 2013).. addressing inequalities. 2010. The methodology is first are known. distributed or community energy generation and Devine-Wright. fuel poverty alleviation. even taking an expansive view of the term. Following Van Veelen and Haggett of a whole-systems perspective within their approach to corporate (2016). Chilvers et al. as normative ideals of justice are shaped into particular solutions in Sovacool et al.A. literatures on appropriate technology (Dunn. Such outcomes in practice (Simcock. community energy is regarded as: (a) exhibiting a scalar social responsibility (Meadows. emphasis added) stress that an ‘equitable particular contexts. 2014).1. com- singular’ (Weick. where people. development. 2016. As such. and McCauley (2016) explore the strategic framing of energy justice The energy justice dimensions and implications of community from the stance of activism and advocacy. Further still. for the public. 2015. 2009. expressing diverse sets of values. 2015. Indeed. particular places where … power and injustice twelve-month period from December 2014. 2014: 358). recognising the diverse nature of the sector and that the ‘specific spatial energy by the Welsh Government is part of a broader package of configuration of any specific project will vary’ (Devine-Wright and Wiersma. 2016: 588. see also: the energy trilemma can be gained through attention to ‘the diverse Demski et al. normative accounts of energy justice are hancing equity. decentralised sites at which social actors are already and continuously engaged in and distributed energy has burgeoned alongside its growing relevance sustainable energy transitions’ (Chilvers and Longhurst. 2015. More recently. and societies work and struggle daily to realise energy justice on their own terms. Such requirements ensured that. and (c) a model of more locally appropriate grassroots sustainable energy innovations (Seyfang et al. 2013. Between 2010 and 2015. Van Veelen. 2009: 195) creating possibilities for distinct energy munity energy is increasingly linked with a wide range of benefits. Methodology 1994. negotiated at a more local carbon communities’ in enacting energy justice. projects may be more or less bottom-up based on how they are developed. (2014: 85. is useful here in that it denotes a process of reflection and development (Schumacher.. In other words. 2011. community regeneration. placing energy centre-stage in supporting the wider well- 2 being of people and communities. I invite you to consider locating energy justice at the 3. support for community In practice. Fuller scale than has hitherto been addressed. environmental. although not explicitly. communities.2 that has been variously associated with claims of energy schemes. making’. 2008). Wiersma and Devine-Wright. A key feature of this development. Jenkins et al.. are concluding remarks and policy recommendations. decentralised and diversely owned Dworkin. commit to sustainable development across all aspects of policy and 651 . Devine- strategies (DECC. such action may involve pation in the project and in the allocation of benefits (Walker and expanding ‘energy citizenship’ (Devine-Wright. For government. From an enactment perspective. justice is an ongoing process that is system. Forman Energy Policy 107 (2017) 649–657 companies can implement others from the “bottom-up”’ (Sovacool and movements promoting small-scale. and as a test-bed for tracing the ways in which public values and To date. 2008. Hielscher et al. The notion of enactment. families. 2006) or creating Devine-Wright. Walker facilitate renewable. these may include policies to models of renewable energy generation (Walker et al. justice outcomes between places and aiding insight into the politics and including: sustainable income streams. there has been a lack of critical interrogation of how energy notions of (energy) justice are enrolled in the context of energy system justice is enacted through bottom-up pathways. This gap risks obscuring actions on the case of community energy in Wales. in policy in recent years. 1974). drawn from organisa. 2016a). experienced and resisted’ (Schlosberg. 2009). 2013). Smith. rather than monolithic and renewable sources … and distributed generation’. A requirement for ERDF funding was an explicit focus on the themes of enhancing equal opportunities and environmental sustain- 2. and evokes strong comparisons with action on the environment in order to change it (Nicholson 1995.. Fuller and Bulkeley change. Chilvers and Kearnes. Indeed.

2016a). Coding was theoretically driven. such views The intensive phase involved participatory workshops in host suggest connections between place identity and the active support and communities. or bought shares in a project (or any 42 in the extensive phase and 9 to complement participatory workshops in the combination of these). and mid. fixing on justice issues linked to it that adds to the community benefit (Project Organiser. This enabled an and employment. Community energy and distributive justice to combine under the banner of community energy whilst aiding broader integrated objectives outlined in the Well-being of Future Distributive justice has long been considered an aspect of energy Generations (Wales) Act. in their early stages. structured how wide-ranging approaches to doing so. and recognition justice. Neath to distributive. see if we can't get some locals 2004).. ‘casing the field’ (Ragin. nice. developers) identified through snowball sampling4 (O’Leary. follow-up interviews with participants and participant observations were carried out where possible to comple. 2013) of energy justice. on their own with some advisory and informal support from across the emerging sector. transcribed and Whilst Ynni’r Fro has clearly been important in aiding the devel. procedural. local autho.2. such views are poorly captured by 3. further variations were evidenced in projects seeking energy justice perspective to be assembled across the fieldwork and to protect the Welsh language and pursue cultural activities such as analysis. For many projects. extent to which distributive justice in the context of community energy is viewed by participants in diverse and complex ways that vary from place-to-place.1. 1992) The fact that we have a hydro scheme on that river would be very aiding a thorough picture of the community energy sector in Wales. the fact that Ynni’r Fro outlined no 4. environ.000 were offered to fund projects energy enhanced energy justice from the standpoint of distribution. Interview guides addressed the ‘triumvirate of tenets’ trained up to be tourist guides… It all sort of has an additional life (McCauley et al. project members. As one project organiser in Neath Port Talbot shared: This research employed a broadly interpretive and constructivist approach.. emergent view of community energy as culture. resilience and nity energy project leaders (developing 33 separate schemes). 2016b). Organiser. analysed thematically (Braun and Clarke. In addition. Whilst such benefits often take the form of a fund paid by analysis of the implications of a wider perspective on agency for the developers to locally impacted communities. Support for context. make it a key actors. using a participatory action research-inspired (Kemmis use of community energy project benefits as a form of place-protective and McTaggart. Results and discussion explicit requirements as to how revenues raised through projects should be spent allowed a diverse and vibrant collection of local actors 4. procedural and recognition justice in the questions Port Talbot). but let's see if we can't add value to that. However. with an intensive-extensive research design (Sayer.g. the sustainable income would be a benefit thank you very The extensive phase involved compiling and interviewing a database of much. 2015). largely driven from the bottom-up with communities in the driving On the one hand. installed capacity of renewables one of a number of indicators relevant south. reflecting the programme and nature of support offered ensured that growth was interest in issues of distributive. Data collection and analysis simple transfer payments. the structure of the tive analysis software. Honneth. In sum. (2000)) with the aim to include projects from each of north. prompting discussions around the provision of nurturing a budding sector. including community energy project leaders. intensive phase. Three projects were selected using case which highlights the integrated nature of social. see if we can't get some of the rities. asked as well as accounts framed in justice terms within broader Whilst some projects thus prioritised attributes such as local skills questions on community energy and the local setting. and further enabling et al. 1992). this study shows the enactment of energy justice on the ground. part of a wider research project. questions grants could be spent and hampered greater financial support by the centred on if and how community energy projects aided greater Welsh Government for the sector. Such aspirations provide links to identity and and their distribution as well as participation across the wider justice as recognition (Heller. with the latter used as an opportunity for are outlined in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. with implications particularly for the task of raising often vast sums of capital finance for their projects procedural justice. community energy is thus perceived to contribute towards commit. On the other hand. locals trained up to maintain it. with Ynni’r Fro aiding 112 members. 652 . 51 in-depth. 9 project responsibility (Welsh Government. As one project organiser on the Isle of of projects in order to assist in the design of community benefit Anglesey noted: strategies. semi-structured interviews5 with 28 commu- ments to increasing community cohesion. economic. Forman Energy Policy 107 (2017) 649–657 service delivery. 4 ‘Project leaders’ were identified through access to Welsh Government data whilst ‘project members’ refers to participants who held a voluntary role in a project. Indeed. try and create some jobs out of it being further stakeholders (e. and deems Curtis et al. In these ways. through examination of community energy project benefits supporting local festivals. 2005) approach.A. Communities were largely faced with participation in the energy system. prosperity.Wales to ensure a sample representative of the Welsh for achieving such aims (Welsh Government. In addition. which is unique in the United Kingdom. policymakers. conflict with European State Aid revealing the complexity involved in delivering such outcomes and regulations. ‘Preparatory grants’ of up to £30. These issues are addressed in the following sections.3 shortly after the launch of Ynni’r Fro. and examined distributive outcomes action (Devine-Wright. selection criteria developed by Miles and Huberman (1994. see also: mental and cultural well-being (Welsh Government. we've got some cultural issues here because we've got the Welsh ment the workshops. enabling it to grow as a primarily benefits to communities as a tool for managing siting conflicts (Cowell bottom-up movement responding to local needs. as well as demonstration model. alongside 3 half-day groups over its lifetime and 47 ‘pipeline projects’ in receipt of funding participatory workshops with 18 participants across all three groups. 2003. Isle of Anglesey). and advisory support to meet these aims. questions addressed whether or not community seat. and 14 stakeholders were carried out. 2011). subscribed 5 to a membership organisation attached to a project. These actions from the extensive phase. Ynni’r Fro assisted in infrastructure siting. 2009). 1995) as well as an community in each case. Projects in the intensive sample were derived language and we'd identified that we would also like to sustain that if we could … [so] an active project which would … have 3 recognised that the language had a principal place in our project Preventing public authorities from potentially distorting competition and trade would also have been a very positive development (Project within the EU by using taxpayer-funded resources to confer advantage on bodies in receipt of funding. Interviews and workshops were audio-recorded. 2006) using NVivo qualita- opment of the community energy sector in Wales.

services… (Project Organiser. Forman Energy Policy 107 (2017) 649–657 A further feature that was evidenced widely across Wales was the the lack of local ability to access energy even more stark than under responsiveness of projects to declining local services and public sector existing centralised arrangements since. energy justice in the context of form of energy justice and suggests a need for careful attention to community energy becomes bound up with issues such as local context with respect to how energy justice is negotiated in practice.2. 2017: 120) and the enactment of energy justice (see also: Marres Of course. rescale Pembrokeshire). they bring widely held view of projects involved in this study that the vast majority money back into the community. a recurring theme emphasised by projects poised to provide. rather than it is possible in theory to set up. Indeed. In this way. In this way. In addition. despite increased spatial cuts. 2006). development. Carmarthenshire). However. supporting system. whether they spend that on of benefits ought to remain local in order to offset financial benefits insulation on the house or not (Project Adviser. to some extent. the analysis supports the view envisaged often extend well beyond energy-based goals. Mixed views were often expressed regarding through the foreclosure of realistic alternatives: whether projects should focus on providing added benefits. Indeed. so things like that I think have really capacities are significant barriers for communities attempting to spurred people on to want to take ownership over facilities and deliver already technically challenging projects (Malhotra. 2008). 2015). through aspirations towards local energy supply. Indeed. confrontation with inhospitable regulatory environs and con- probably an extra motivation … In cuts and just all of those flicting policy regimes directly impact the ability of community energy problems you can. local culture and the local economy. activities really. the energy infrastructures envisaged and justice outcomes. a number of projects also saw such open- challenge to do that for a small project (Project Organiser. the emergence of Taf). on whose terms. as a become involved with environmental action’ (Dunkley and Franklin. was the ambition to be able to supply energy locally. Issues of procedure in the context of energy justice are typically 2015). This point is exemplified by 4. economic. as it were. 2009: 630). In this view. community energy in Wales has brought. as one board member for a project in Gwynedd noted: means that you’ve got a certain number of people who are getting ‘You don’t want to export the benefit’. benefits to local communities in social. Such tensions highlight the politics and contestation involved in Projects interviewed during this research overwhelmingly concep. such as increasing availability and affordability. allows actors at different scales to ‘work with different under- would be a game changer and I think if we can sell electricity standings of the spatiality of the issues at hand’ (Walker. thereby addressing cultural and environmental terms and it is difficult to untangle the issues of ‘availability’ and ‘affordability’ within the energy justice integral role of energy from wider justice issues experienced within decision-making framework (Sovacool et al. they can then access work.A. inability of communities to realise more conventional energy benefits through local project development. and the benefits Returning to the aims of this paper. the that attention to the situated actions of local actors reveals a broad variation in outcomes between projects emphasises the extent to which perspective on distribution in the context of energy justice. supported by a wider view of I think the holy grail is being able to sell electricity. More broadly. More justice for whom. I think that agency. beyond issues such as infrastructure siting to address integrated such outcomes highlight the ways in which normative ideals of justice aspects of well-being and local needs. 2016): communities. or is distributive justice. cheaper and cleaner than the current grid situation we could take Problems persist for communities to deliver more widespread conven- on a vast percentage of … [the local] population (Project Organiser. and I think declining services more laterally are Indeed. Such concerns emphasise the subsidised childcare place. moving benefits are often tailored and responsive to local needs. the analysis highlights the ways in which a multi- scalar conception of energy justice. Such conflicts in- Entitlement to cheaper energy across local communities through dicate ongoing policy and regulatory incongruences that must be renewables development is a long-standing aspiration (Cowell et al. established social. with wider justice issues on the ground. As one project organiser in Pembrokeshire outlined: Whilst the UK energy market regulator Ofgem has created a pathway for distributed generators to supply energy through ‘Licence I mean the passion of a lot of things that have happened in that Lite’ provisions (Ofgem. communities are effec- needs in a UK context characterised overwhelmingly by austerity at the tively compelled to sell the energy they produce back to the grid time fieldwork took place. emphasising issues such as energy tualised ‘distribution’ and ‘benefit’ in such wide-ranging terms. A further well-rehearsed debate in this regard relates created were often viewed highly instrumentally: to the conflict between communities of interest and communities of place (Walker. economic and even cultural rationales were thus Indeed. extending understandings of towards local supply reflects the current lack of alignment between top- their role as drivers for community energy and as issues of justice at down and bottom-up approaches to produce more progressive energy community-scale. and under which circumstances. ings as providing significant opportunities to build momentum. the additional complexities such area and in that particular village have been driven by the closure arrangements pose for small groups in terms of finances and group of the primary school. ‘social and cultural are mediated and contextualised in particular places through processes contexts emerge as central to governing how and why communities of enactment and emphasises the conjoined nature of energy. which capital. highlighting the 653 . squared if the spectrum of opportunities for enhancing energy justice 2011) but has become a more prominent issue in response to the through community energy are to be fully captured. Community energy and procedural justice intermediary body Community Energy Wales recently adopting a ‘right to local supply’ as part of its manifesto (Community Energy Wales. community energy contributes towards meeting local proximity to energy generating infrastructure. a company to market stepping into prop-up local services widely considered the function of your electricity to individuals … [but] at the moment it's quite a local authorities. responsibility and meet local needs more effectively. the failure of existing policy regimes to facilitate ambitions frequently mobilised as primary aims. protect yourself against those if projects to deliver more widespread benefits in conventional energy you take responsibility for and ownership of those assets and those terms. community energy also embodies concerns with more (2007)). tional energy benefits. Indeed.. fostering greater energy justice. Rhondda Cynon transferred through share ownership. the expansion of community energy has rendered concerned with access to energy decision-making. Indeed. which was evidenced in this study through the half the money goes to support a community café and the other widespread reliance of projects on share offers to raise development half of the money goes to support childcare provision.. Pembrokeshire). Whilst there remains a need to maintain a critical perspective traditional energy justice issues relevant from the perspective of on particular projects. such conflicts highlight the difficulties involved in constructing a pure As the foregoing analysis suggests.

Given that this article business models such as community energy. the foregoing issues raised by projects respect to opportunities and vehicles through which energy justice indicate that procedural justice priorities. Neath Port Talbot). we’ve been trying to read our visual impact assessment and it's (2015)). what's members as part of the project. you can’t have a guidance through the technical advice notes and planning policy hundred and sixty members of the community acting as committee … that actually if you read it you think this is so sensible. 2012). incumbent large-scale. 2016). community energies are not to be squandered (see also: Parkhill et al. So whilst tralised and participatory developments such as community energy. determinations of local need this issue carries significant weight. Indeed. This is particularly community energy as a vehicle for energy development more broadly. they have actually sent out dural dilemmas. it's also subjective. As the above quotes indicate. regimes (Strachan et al. perhaps more surprisingly was the clear potential for clarifications … to local authorities to try and make sure that they deeper conflicts between project leaders and wider communities to do take into account the social and economic benefits of community schemes. Indeed. planning was a regular theme in munity energy scheme. such issues seriously undermine this study had interactions with public bodies as part of the decision. Community Energy Wales).. and we of more radical sustainable energy pathways. 654 . relevant in the context of this research in view of the fact that one As one project organiser in Powys noted: important reading of procedural justice relates to the ‘fair and equitable [The project has] a huge community social and economic compo- institutional processes of a state’ (Schlosberg. Forman Energy Policy 107 (2017) 649–657 ways in which communities are engaged in such processes (Jenkins of local planning authorities in preventing the wider spread of et al. in interaction with formal institutional public sector in Wales. 2016a). it needs to be rationalised and it not to like? That then goes to the local authority and they interpret needs to be kept to a manageable amount of people (Project Board it differently. ability of information as well as equality of access and respect for Alongside such institutional perspectives on procedural justice. and subverts expectations that community-owned pro- claim to represent. 2016. 2016b) alongside ensuring ‘due process’ and ‘transparency and community energy project benefits. might be enacted on the ground. Perhaps most significantly. such Not many [planning authorities] seem to understand what a conflicts highlight the need from a policy perspective to ensure the community project is. As Issues raised included doubts about the processes through which officials from Welsh Government and Community Energy Wales noted: community consensus could be negotiated. such attitudes further emphasise the conflicting politics and justice. Cowell et al. Taking the first of these issues. 2016a: 68).A. a range of perspectives were offered by communities at giving weight in the planning process to the sorts of social and that already had generating infrastructure or were likely to achieve it. the example illustrates the ways in which the pursuit another language really. and (b) projects are tasked with ensuring a statutory obligation for public sector bodies to commit to sustainable that their aims and objectives are reflective of the communities they development. and discussions with both community energy projects and stakeholders brought it down solely to a matter of environmental impact and throughout the study and concerns were frequently raised with respect visuals (Project Organiser. From the standpoint of com. possibly view of the early stage of development of many of the projects receiving the most significant. Indeed. Fro mid-term evaluation was deemed ineffective at defusing this ‘intractable’ issue (Welsh Government. both stakeholders and wider project 7 Particularly relevant in Wales given proposals for new nuclear power at Wylfa representatives interviewed during this study pointed towards the role Newydd on the Isle of Anglesey. As one project organiser in Powys noted: our planning colleagues … [have] spent a lot of time and effort and energy on developing. both fairness and equality of respect within the planning process for making process for consenting and licensing. economic benefits community energy projects are poised to provide. to whether community energy projects were given a fair hearing in the planning process: Whilst without doubt achieving due process can be long and arduous for the very reason that it is careful and systematic. are they say that it's scientific and technical. underpinned by decen- submit it and the planning officer goes ‘oh no I disagree’. planning authorities interpreted guidance from Welsh Government munity energy this study raises a number of issues in this regard. 2016). A precursor nent to it. centralised developers7 and conflicting policy Pembrokeshire). In highlighted in the Ynni’r Fro final evaluation as ‘a significant. 2015. sheerly from a mechanical perspective. In Such concerns are problematic from the standpoint of procedural addition. by Welsh Government's own admission. 2016b). so disrupted by concurrent moves to extend entitlements on behalf of that's been a real massive problem (Project Organiser. However. Cowell. which community energy is simply not institutionalised across the representing local interests. the suggestion that local accountability’ (Sovacool et al. were clearly undermined with regard to community energy projects also face a more informal challenge to lack of transparency in how information is used and assessed in ensure that their aims and objectives are truly reflective of the decision-making and through inequality of respect for non-traditional communities on whose behalf they operate. This is perhaps most evident in the seemingly group of energy projects post-construction would be beneficial on this casual approach taken by local planning authorities to guidance aimed point. each of the communities involved in 2008).. jects will have fewer problems obtaining planning permission (Walker. This is all the more surprising in a country with processes (such as planning). but it's just very sketchy across-the-board how that's interpreted… and different planning officers interpret it in different 6 A ministerial intervention directed at local planning authorities following the Ynni’r ways (Organisation Official. Member... participants (Walker. barrier reported to projects progressing’ (Welsh support through Ynni’r Fro. 2007: 25). they’re still much more familiar with private alignment of energy justice aims across scales at an early stage6 if developments (Project Organiser. it's so scientific… so we submit it. has already demonstrated that community energy is often responsive to Planning in particular was. that accords with the ministerial statements in support for the growth of community energy in this regard relies on projects of community energy schemes.. such as clarity and avail. Powys). Indeed. inconsistently and contrary to its objectives emphasises the extent to whereby (a) energy justice is actively negotiated by participants. in a way that you think ‘why’? (Government Official. and particularly ‘transparency and accountability’ and ‘due contestation associated with the realisation of energy justice in practice process’ within the energy justice decision-making framework and highlights a need for greater openness within policy structures with (Sovacool et al. Powys). writing and drafting sensible planning Obviously. Whilst it is undoubtedly difficult to entirely eliminate such proce- to be fair to Welsh Government. and at the end of the day the local being approved through the planning regime as the institutional arbiter authority… refused to consider the material benefits of the com- of procedural justice. Welsh Government). future research with a more substantive Government. and its social and economic benefits.

1997. In so helpful discussions and comments on earlier drafts of this paper and electricity/wholesale-market/market-efficiency-review-and-reform/electricity-market. Indeed. (Grant number: ES/J500197/1) and Welsh Government. however. community energy creates temporal questions highlights the varied and contextually-specific nature of energy justice of justice extending to issues of decommissioning. landscape restora- outcomes between places.A. as illustrated by the energy justice can be enacted beyond the ‘corridors of power’ through following quotations from project organisers: initiatives such as community energy and. Whilst future research might further verify this point. (2017: 632) what “justice” can involve in any given context’ (Simcock. More collaboratively funded by the Economic and Social Research Council broadly. this view. In legal and regulatory context.. Such outcomes include. equity gains. the analysis illustrates the extent to which community energy projects remain locally-relevant overlaps between community energy and issues of local development. future efforts ought to focus on building consensus and people ultimately responsible for making those projects happen. these findings highlight the importance of using methodologies they are underpinned. Conclusions and policy recommendations hindered through conflict with the regulatory regime governing energy supply in the UK. evidence from the study in Wales suggests that context is indeed key ness of projects established in the name of the community (see also: and that strategies for achieving energy justice both exceed energy- Johnson and Hall. simple energy-based goals and suggest that community for the communities who come to depend on the local energy energy ownership has much to offer in engendering more widespread infrastructures increasingly being created. highlights problems with an understanding of energy justice only as a benefit that I mean I really genuinely do want to make sure that the is bestowed upon society from the top-down. the research highlights the value of an energy justice perspec. Welsh Government partly funded this research. real struggles were evidenced in some communities with expense of those experiencing injustice on the ground. 2013) that It feels important to give people an option to own the company … demands a critical perspective with respect to issues of process and It feels important to give that but then. it feels outcome. 2014) and the analysis emphasises the diverse nature of a line somewhere (Project Organiser. emphasising issues such as constitute Government policy. as energy justice scholars. energy equity and environ. the wide range of views held in particular settings. Indeed. Rich Gorman and participants at the ‘Exploring the Energy 655 .. This fact raises wider questions about the justice and suggest tensions between desires to extend participatory ontological status of justice and warns against an understanding of the governance in energy infrastructure at a local scale with potential loss concept that marginalises alternative visions of how energy justice of control of projects by the people at the forefront of delivering them. the analysis showed that the strong desire for community energy projects to be able to provide energy locally is 5. and do not reflect or politics and contestation of energy Swansea). the views are those of Equally as important are the insights this paper reveals into the the author. By focussing on bottom-up perspectives. this analysis highlights scope for realised in practice. 2016: 475) question ‘how contextually-specific our strategies for energy justice extending to aspects of both distribution and procedure. Catney sentative of them … that it's fair and open but … you’ve got to draw et al. energy infrastructures created. local economy. situated and realised in diverse Such evaluations again emphasise the contested nature of energy ways depending on context. the analysis suggests that there is much scope to capitalise on a wider equity dividend through a This research was conducted as part of a three-year PhD award more diverse approach to ownership in UK energy policy. With opportunities for action between scales if greater energy justice is to be respect to the aims of this paper. Such concerns include vigilance about mental sustainability are encouraged. in a strategic sense. the development of this research. might look in practice. Such tensions were evident mainly been directed. local culture and social justice and conveyed. what the next stage of the energy transition involves well beyond. Forman Energy Policy 107 (2017) 649–657 emerge with respect to project objectives. the analysis illustrates the ways in which across a number of projects involved in this study. over time. Jenkins et al. it five challenges (Jenkins et al. energy justice for whom. Whilst the tive for understanding and addressing energy policy issues. As recent policy approaches in the United Kingdom under Electricity Market Reform8 have tended to prioritise affordability over Disclosure statement ownership as a means to enhance equity. new perspectives on how to address area is ultimately in its infancy considered against the lifespan of the the competing demands of energy security. a key feature of this research has been to show that like perhaps it ought to be driven a bit more by the project (Project context matters for how energy justice is enacted within settings. Thanks as well to four anonymous reform-emr reviewers. need therefore to maintain a critical perspective on the representative. given that research in this the energy trilemma. and the processes through which Indeed. Pembrokeshire). Ria Dunkley and Alex Franklin for 8 Further detail on Electricity Market Reform available: https://www. At the same time. 2014. In Organiser. There is a must be’. these findings have relevance for each of the decision-making to local communities. as the respect to managing the delicate balance between projects established inability of communities to deliver on ambitions for local supply in the name of the community with the associated ambitions of the suggests. This is not to suggest that community are empowered to apply for this and that it's repre- local action will always be positive (Marvin and Guy. are independent of Government. It to more effectively accommodate both centralised and distributed contributes insights into distribution and procedure in community generation options. In is important to remember that ‘there are many contrasting visions of learning from national policy contexts. beyond. whilst most projects in Wales appear genuinely to strive for taken not to reify perspectives of industry and policy elites at the inclusivity. as well as identifying where and when added value can be local environment. in so doing. on whose terms. and under which circum- stances. in the equity arm of especially relevant to community energy. community energy itself (Devine-Wright and Wiersma. However. Such conflicts highlight the contestation of energy This paper demonstrates how energy system interventions at more justice and the need for greater thinking across energy types in order local scales have the capacity to foster greater energy justice. Instead. ensure that associated distributions. More broadly. care must be Indeed. 2017) in order to based goals and are often tailored to reflect local circumstances. 2017) outlined in this Special Issue. but often extend tion and. remain locally relevant particularly given the for energy justice that are sensitive to context and able to account for considerable lifespan of such initiatives. this paper addresses Acknowledgements an empirical gap in the audience and actors to which energy justice has I am indebted to Richard Cowell. as one aspect of accessibility. energy justice is emplaced. community energy to extend energy justice in terms of rescaling As a final reflection. Finally. Indeed. the challenge of temporal approaches is energy ownership. Grossmann and Creamer.ofgem.

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