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Community Solar as Energy Reparations: Abolishing Petro-Racial Capitalism in New Orleans

September 15, 2020 Comments off

Luke, N. and N. Heynen. (2020) “Community Solar as Energy Reparations: Abolishing Petro-Racial Capitalism in New Orleans.” American Quarterly. 72(3): 603-625.

Intro excerpt:

Community solar programs geared to low-income communities strive to address energy poverty or energy insecurity by working around the financial and infrastructural impediments for renters and other customers without adequate infrastructure or the upfront capital to finance a residential solar energy system.3 Customers can harness energy collected at a location other than their home by subscribing to a share of a community-owned solar array and receive credit on their bill for the power produced through their participation. Given the history of racial discrimination in home lending that is reflected in an unequal distribution of property ownership in New Orleans, and the US more widely,4 community solar is a concrete policy intervention with the potential to generate equity in access to renewable energy and reduce disparate energy poverty across racial groups in the transition to clean energy. Distributing access to renewable and affordable electricity through community solar challenges the fossil fuel infrastructures that contribute to energy poverty, housing insecurity, and climate vulnerability and confronts the power relations that sustain petro-racial capitalism in New Orleans. We focus on this policy as an alternative system of energy production and consumption that works to shift the extractive energy paradigm to a renewable and reparative energy system. Importantly, community solar is only a piece of climate justice mobilization in the Gulf Coast, where Indigenous and Black communities are organizing for energy equity and self-determination in the transition to clean energy.5