A dramatic increase in solar power adoption has occurred in the last decade, due to
growing consumer interest in green energy, coupled with significant decreases in associated
costs. The unprecedented speed at which distributed resources are changing energy
systems underscores the important challenge of understanding the roles of humans in
this transition. Energy democracy is a movement that aims to involve publics in energy
decision-making with emphases on the transformation from fossil fuels to distributed
renewable energy. Research in energy democracy has yet to examine actors who may perceive
distributed energy as a barrier to their goals, such as electric utility companies.
The objective of this scholarship, A Comparative Case Study of Electric Utility Companies' Use of Energy Democracy in
Strategic Communication, is to identify how aspects of the energy democracy movement have been employed by
electric utility companies as a strategy for communicating with their customers in
discussions around net metering. To this end, the researchers conducted a qualitative
analysis of websites and press releases for NV Energy in Nevada and Rocky Mountain
Power (RMP) in Utah, two utility companies who recently proposed changes to their
net metering policies. This research found that both NV Energy and RMP strategically
emphasized their pro-renewable energy position and framed their net metering policies
as socially just positions in energy decision-making.
This article was published in the journal Frontiers in Communication: Science and
Environmental Communication and can be found online here.
Meaghan McKasy is a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Communication
and this is her first publication as the primary author. Dr. Sara K. Yeo is a professor
in the Department of Communication and is affiliated with the Environmental Humanities
program and the Global Change and Sustainability Center.