Energy democracy calls for expanding public participation in the renewable energy transition and the broader functioning of the energy sector.

By Guest Writer

OPINION: The construction of the Bujagali dam near the source of the River Nile in Uganda was a very long process.

Even if the government was seemingly committed to implementing electricity sector reforms and constructed the dam, Ugandans suffered under high prices for power and frequent load-shedding well into the 2000s, which is still the case today.

This calls for the operationalization of Energy democracy, which is developed within the Environmental justice movement and pairs the renewable energy transition with efforts to democratize the production and management of energy resources.

Energy democracy has been endorsed by community organizations, labor unions, and NGOs as a framework for decarbonization, although it is still in its theoretical context in our country, Uganda.

Most of the principles that govern energy democracy have not been implemented because the existing utilities are poorly suited to undertake rapid decarbonization and address concerns about environmental justice.

Energy democracy calls for expanding public participation in the renewable energy transition and the broader functioning of the energy sector.

In doing so, energy policy and decision-making will better incorporate the local knowledge and environmental justice concerns of local communities.

Various mechanisms for public participation include the creation of dramatically elected energy oversight boards and the incorporation of public deliberation into the policy-making process.

Globally, end-user communities of community renewable energy projects are expressing a desire for increased participation and ownership, while engineers and project managers outside of a community tend to want to preserve the status quo.

The need for a democratic transition in energy ownership arises from this discrepancy, as end users, or “energy citizens,” of energy transitions are often underrepresented.

Furthermore, energy democracy calls for decentralization. This would be a tool for empowering local communities and deconcentrating wealth and power.

In my opinion, supporting broad community acceptance and ownership of renewable energy infrastructure would be one way of promoting energy democracy in Uganda and around the world, for example, through community solar projects.

The projects would be planned and financed by the participants, which encourages broader access and opens opportunities to those who might not have sufficient land or financial resources to participate independently in renewable energy generation.

These projects can unambiguously contribute to the state’s goals for renewable energy generation because they are owned and managed locally and collectively.

Therefore, by integrating technological change with the potential for socioeconomic and political change, the call links social justice and equity with all kinds of innovation in energy (both social and technical innovations).

The call for the operationalization of energy democracy seeks to create opportunities for destabilizing power relations, reversing histories of dispossession, marginalization, and social and environmental injustices, and replacing monopolized fossil fuel energy systems with democratic and renewable structures.

Above all, energy democracy offers a set of visionary organizing principles that provide guidance for dramatically restructuring the energy and electricity sectors through the process of shifting from fossil fuel-based systems to renewable energy systems.

The author is Ndyamuhaki Phionah, a concerned citizen.

Disclaimer: As UG Reports Media LTD, we welcome any opinion from anyone if it’s constructive for the development of Uganda. All the expressions and opinions in this write-up are not those of UG Reports Media Ltd. but of the author of the article.

Would you like to share your opinion with us? Please send it to this email: theugreports@gmail.com.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button