It’s Time to Put Energy in the Hands of Communities — Not Corporations


“The great task of our times is to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructures. All of our other efforts to fight climate change will be useless if the world does not transition away from fossil fuels in the next decade or so.”

So declares Professor Ashley Dawson (of The Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island) in his new book People’s Power: Reclaiming the Energy Commons, a sharp rebuke of the world’s reliance on fossil fuels and power monopolies. He argues that not only must the world stop using fossil fuels, but the transition to renewable energy also must not prioritize profit over people’s needs.

“We need to think about energy totally differently. We need to stop seeing it as a commodity and hoping the market is going to save us. We need to see that the only way we’re going to avert catastrophe is to mobilize politically to have public power,” Dawson says.

“We really need public power. We need to have a massive political transformation that makes the shift to renewable energy happen much more quickly if we’re going to avert catastrophic climate change.”

Instead of relying on monopoly power suppliers like ConEdison and National Grid, Dawson argues for “Public Power,” citizen-owned power supplies. Sustainable energy production will only be possible if ordinary citizens and communities control their own power, instead of profit-seeking corporations, he holds.

But making this shift requires massive change.

“I want to see the struggle for energy transition as not just about changing the fuel we use, but having a much broader social transformation that is connected to all the other social struggles that are playing out on the ground against racist, capitalist, abusive forms of state power.”