Energy Transition and Social Movements: The Rise of a Community Choice Movement in California

  • Ida Dokk SmithEmail author


This chapter examines the rise of a community choice movement in California. Here local governments launch community choice aggregation programs, one after the other, that promise higher renewable energy content than the existing investor-owned utilities. I view the movement as an expression of local climate interests fused with anti-utility resentment, and use the three lenses from social movement theory—political opportunities, mobilizing structures and framing processes—to analyze the emergence and development of the movement. This bottom-up process unfolds in a state that has some of the most ambitious climate policies and renewable energy goals in the US. The effectiveness of the community choice model as a climate policy tool is contested. However, the movement’s aim is not only to decarbonize the electricity system but to build an electricity system that utilizes more local renewable energy resources.



I want to thank the American-Scandinavian Foundation and Centre for International Climate and Energy Policy (CICEP) for financial support to conduct fieldwork in California spring 2017. I am grateful to all of those whom I interviewed for taking the time out of their busy schedules and to Jeremy Waen for commenting on an early draft.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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