Women’s leadership in renewable transformation, energy justice and energy democracy: Redistributing power
by Liz Allen, Jennie Stephens, Hannah Lyons, Energy Research & Social Science
As women take on more leadership roles in the United States advancing social and political change, analysis of women’s contributions to the transformation occurring within the energy sector is critically important. Grassroots movements focused on energy justice and energy democracy focus on: (1) resisting the power of large multinational fossil fuel energy companies that exacerbate inequities and disparities in energy, (2) reclaiming the energy sector with more community and public control to redisitrbute benefits and risks, and (3) restructuring the energy sector to prioritize equity and justice with community ownership and distributed governance. This research analyzes women’s leadership by focusing on how two women-led, non-profit organizations are advancing the renewable energy transition, operationalizing the concept of energy democracy and contributing to the energy justice movement. The two organizations are Grid Alternatives, a solar installation and workforce training organization, and Mothers Out Front, an advocacy organization focused on addressing climate change by promoting a transition to renewable energy. These organizations differ in their mission and approaches, yet both intentionally link climate and energy action with other forms of social justice activism, by expanding community engagement, strengthening participation, and fundamentally redistributing power to promote a transition to more equitable, resilient and sustainable energy systems. This paper contributes to the theoretical understanding of gender in energy justice and energy democracy movements, and to the practical consideration of the role that women’s leadership is playing in accelerating energy system change and advancing the principles of energy justice and energy democracy.