Graduate Research – Cataloging Characteristics of Renewable Energy Cooperatives

Graduate Research – Cataloging Characteristics of Renewable Energy Cooperatives


My name is Dorraine Duncan. I’m a second year master student pursuing a dual degree in Public Policy which is in Ivan
Allen College, and City and Regional Planning, which is in School of Design.
And this summer I got an opportunity to be an intern with the Enterprise
Innovation Institute in Tech Square. I’m from Jamaica, and I’m really interested
in development for the third world context. So I know that I want to combine
renewable energy with that context. I wasn’t sure how. And we read a paper about
community-based renewable energy, and how community members are able to organize
themselves and form these cooperatives. A cooperative, any type of cooperative, a bicycle cooperative, a grocery cooperative, they have the same principle: that it’s consumer owned. So the people who shop there, the people who benefit from
whatever output, they’re also owners. They all have a financial stake with in that
business. Whether it is putting money together to buy a wind turbine in the
community or solar panels, they put money into it, and they are the ones who are in
charge of it. So it’s a democratically run organization. My proposal was to
catalog characteristics of RE co-ops to see how they were set up both
financially, to see how they’re organized on a managerial kind of position, how
they started, what were their motivations for starting, and what are some of the outcomes? So did they have economic benefits, did they have social benefits? For my
research I started off with the database had to find 60 RE co-ops, and I had a
specific set of selection criteria. The sizes of the co-ops varied widely. I
expected for like a community-based organization that they would all be
really small. Lots of the coops were massive, lots of the coops were able to
work with either public utilities or other governmental agencies to help
create renewable energy plans. Lots of them used schools and churches, and
community organizations that already had impacted women communities, and had a
relationship with the people there. Most of them were in the Europe. It’s really popular. Germany has the most RE co-ops in the world. So do couple of the Nordic
countries – Denmark, Netherlands, has quite a number, and so does England. I do
eventually want to create one myself. I don’t know how that’s going to work in the developing context. Policies are completely different with in a
developing world. But I feel like the benefits of it, are applicable to any
country. The UN even talks about cooperatives as being a way to create
sustainable development worldwide. So hopefully, I’m able to figure out the
policy segment of how to make it applicable to Jamaica, and then do it
back home.

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