The tightly-knit community of Ashton Hayes, located in rural Cheshire, is trying to become the first completely carbon neutral town in England. Since the project began in 2006, they have significantly cut back CO2 emissions – in part by running their own community-owned renewable energy company. Today, representatives from towns around the world are traveling to Ashton Hayes to learn from their model. Learn more at Ashton Hayes’ website or by reading “English Village Becomes Climate Leader by Quietly Cleaning Up Its Own Patch” in the New York Times.
Photo by Andrew (CC BY 2.0)
At this center in Tabanan, Bali, founder Rus Alit demonstrates microhydroelectric and biogas generators, ram pumps, systems to filter, store and heat water, aquaponics, and wastewater treatment systems. He runs multi-day experiential workshops at the site and travels to villages around the world to teach about simple, low-cost, place-based water and energy technologies.
Read more about BATI’s work in our Medium series on water sovereignty.
Residents in two neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York are developing an electricity microgrid where residents can buy and sell locally produced renewable energy via a networked grid of rooftop solar arrays. The system will first function as a backup during power outages, and members hope to eventually develop a completely self-sufficient energy system for their neighborhood – and see virtual peer-to-peer energy trading implemented throughout the country. Learn more on the Brooklyn Microgrid website and in this Medium article.
BALE engages in a number of grassroots community localization initiatives from their home base in the White River watershed of Vermont. The overarching goal of these efforts is “to build appropriately scaled solutions from the ground up, taking back, as much as possible, our economy, our culture, and our democratic instruments by re-injecting humanity and authentic relationships into all that we do.” Projects include The Commons @ BALE (a community space open to all and used most evenings of the year), a community solar initiative, a local investment club, a documentary film series, and a Locally Grown Guide to local businesses. Learn about these projects and more at https://balevt.org.
Photo by BALE
Cooperative Energy Futures (CEF), based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has created a cooperative “community solar garden” model for microgrids, in which a large institutional rooftop houses a solar array that powers the building and nearby homes. CEF’s first installation, the Shiloh Temple Solar Garden, is a cooperative business owned by a church and 20 nearby residents who can opt in to purchase the solar energy. The company has several more microgrid projects in the works; most are in historically marginalized neighborhoods, where accessibility for renters and low-income households is a priority. To learn more, tune into this video and podcast from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and read about the system on the CEF website.
Photo: Oleg Savitsky (CC BY-SA 4.0)
As of June 2018, East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), a locally-managed public agency, is providing the electric power used by Alameda County, California. Previous supplier Pacific Gas & Electric continues to maintain the electricity infrastructure while EBCE purchases energy from greener sources, offers options for 100% carbon-free electricity, and reinvests its earnings back into the community. Using the Community Choice Aggregation model, EBCE uses bulk purchasing power to buy a greater percentage of renewables at lower rates, reducing the cost of electricity for residents. Read an overview of the program and learn more about how it works on the EBCE website.
Graphic by EBCE.
The Evergreen Cooperative Initiative, in Cleveland, Ohio, is an inspiring example of community-based economic revitalization in action. Their overarching purpose is to reduce poverty and inequality by building community wealth, democratizing ownership, and creating local green jobs for residents of one of the city’s high-unemployment, low- income neighborhoods. To learn more, visit the Evergreen Cooperatives’ website.
Partnering with local schools, businesses and community groups, Low Carbon Hub turns unused roof-space, fields and locks into renewable energy power stations, raising money to do so through community share offers. These investments, they explain, “put ownership of local renewable energy generation in the hands of local people and keep revenues, jobs and community benefit funds circulating in the local economy.” For more information visit Low Carbon Hub. Or read Low Carbon Hub’s Manifesto.
ME SOLshare builds peer-to-peer solar energy networks, enabling solar panel owners to link up with nearby homes and businesses to trade electricity. Using the principles of swarm intelligence to create resilient microgrids that respond to supply and demand at the village level, the solar networks can scale to include any number of homes and businesses. The microgrids can function independently or connect to municipal grid systems. Learn more about how the system works on the company’s website.
New Energy Economy (NEE) is an initiative in New Mexico dedicated to advancing community-based solutions to climate change that reduce pollution, create jobs, and strengthen the clean energy economy. NEE takes a multi-pronged approach: they campaign against dirty and dangerous energy sources like coal and nuclear power plants; they promote innovative renewable energy policies to help transition New Mexico towards a new local energy economy; and they install community solar electric systems and energy efficiency projects throughout the state. To learn more, visit New Energy Economy’s website.
Our Hamburg, Our Grid
Our Hamburg, Our Grid decided to bring decision-making power back to the community by ousting energy giant Vattenfall and creating a local power utility that enables the city to provide greener, more reliable and less expensive energy, with greater accountability. To learn more, visit Our Hamburg, Our Grid, and watch this short video about a similar successful campaign in Boulder, Colorado (USA).
Puerto Rico has suffered mightily under the neocolonial control of the United States. When Hurricane Maria hit in Fall 2017, it was an unprecedented disaster, but also a unique opportunity for Puerto Ricans to seize local control in the wake of the US government’s neglect. Resilient Power Puerto Rico was founded after Maria’s devastation, and is bringing human-scale solar technology to hard-hit parts of the island by distributing solar-electric power kits, and the knowledge of how to install them. Their goal is for each neighborhood to be self-reliant when it comes to power, and to end the island’s dependence on the top-down fossil fuel economy. Learn about their work on the Resilient Power PR website.
Read more about Resilient Power Puerto Rico on Medium.
Based in West Java, Indonesia, Sundaya has produced and distributed home-scale solar energy kits to off-grid communities across the world for more than 25 years. The simple 12-volt systems do not require expertise, tools, or literacy to install, and the small scale of the systems frees people from the dangers of high-voltage wiring, from frequent power outages, and from dependence on fossil fuels and on systems that cannot easily be repaired locally. The kits are also designed to teach energy literacy – including the nature of energy, managing electricity production, usage and storage, and mindfulness of resource use. To learn more, visit mysundaya.com.
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