Incorporating Community Governance: Planning Sustainable Energy Security

By Diane Costello.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Climate change has focussed global attention on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, particularly through energy efficient technological innovation. In Australia energy policy incentives include increasing the contribution of renewable energy sources along with energy efficient behaviours. In Western Australia an Energy Utility has embraced the principle of community engagement to inform corporate strategies toward sustainable green energy visions. This paper evaluates the process of citizen involvement in promoting community acceptance of green energy technologies at the community level. This qualitative study examines the role of community governance in planning the sustainable energy needs of regional communities. While it is promising to observe the emergence of flexible institutional responses to community energy visions, this energy governance network is a work in progress as it struggles to gain community consensus to site a small community-owned wind farm. To address community polarisation over the costs and benefits of community energy, attention must be paid to issues of inclusive representation along with mechanisms of accountability that assesses the social and economic impacts of green energy initiatives. This study highlights that an effective governance process would incorporate the principles of sustainability, procedural and distributive justice to enhance community transitions toward a more environmentally benign economy and electricity system.

Keywords: Sustainability Planning, Community Engagement, Deliberative Democracy, Decentralized Renewable Energy Sustainable Energy Planning, Procedural and Distributive Justice Community Energy

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.349-366. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 848.510KB).

Dr. Diane Costello

Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Research Centre for Stronger Communities, School of Humanities, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Dr. Diane Costello is trained as a community psychologist and has been conducting research with Indigenous and rural communities since 1995. Her PhD focused on the social justice outcomes for rural communities dealing with the impacts of globalization and loss of social capital. This also involved evaluating the process and outcome of governance relations of community sustainability policies pushed by governments as a self-help solution. Diane has also worked as a consultant to undertake research with Indigenous communities looking at the cause of crime and evaluating the cultural appropriateness and public participation model reflected in the Health Service Programs. Diane was employed as a Lecturer at the School of Arts & Sciences where she taught psychology with a focus on the dynamics of practicing in the Australia social context. The socio-political and historical antecedents related to Indigenous health and welfare including its diverse multi-cultural population were a major aspect in the curriculum set for professional practice. Diane is currently employed as an ARC Linkage Fellowship at the Alcoa Research Centre for Stronger Communities and her focus involves the social impacts of climate change within the energy sector for rural communities on groups who are socially and economically disadvantaged.

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