The fragility of an energy system based upon fossil fuels seems to be ever more in evidence. Collapsing coal mines, oil spills unrivaled in their economic and environmental costs, and 100-year floods that occur with regularity every few years are but some of the more obvious reminders that business-as-usual no longer acceptable. The work presented on this website invites you to think about an alternative sort of electricity system, namely, a system of energy production, consumption and decision making generally described as community energy.
Still in the very earliest stages of development, community energy is based on a mix of distributed technologies, including utility and small-scale wind machines, thermal and PV solar systems, and micro-hydro systems, among others. While we accept the vital importance of this work, we also believe that an exclusive focus on the supply side of the energy equation is seriously flawed. Indeed, we would argue that the success of distributed technologies is, to a large extent, dependent upon the civic life of the community. Even more to the point, we believe that absent an understanding of the how community-level initiatives foster behavioral changes on the part of households and firms, there is little reason to expect that we will ever see substantial and enduring reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
The papers presented on this website are the result of a long-term research initiative carried out by faculty and students in our department since 2003. We also offer a number of links to organizations and research centers drawn to the same set of concerns we have about the future of the electricity system.
We continue to build upon our work and invite you to join us by providing a link to or copies of your work. We will be happy to add it to this modest effort to rethink the way society provides this most vital of modern resources.