Note — Jul 04, 2021

Parliaments of the Earth

At the indispensable Logic Magazine, R. K. Upadhya walks us through the differences between power utilities in the US, with investor-owned utilities (IOUs) on one side and rural electric cooperatives (RECs) on the other. It’s necessarily America centric but the case for co-ops with active communities and how they could provide great strides in the Green New Deal’s premise that we can “decarbonize as we democratize” applies worldwide.

Since, as Upadhya states, “the transmission and distribution grid is arguably the very foundation of modern society,” it’s also heartening to see that some RECs are using their position to diversify into fiberoptic networks and land management. When those co-ops work well, they can have an essential and broad impact.

While the Pacific Northwest suffers under a deadly heat dome and ExxonMobil (merci Frederic) reveal themselves to be the pieces of cow excrement we knew them to be, it’s especially encouraging (and needed) to read about better ways to do things, that bring more people along and help collective resilience.

The destruction of Paradise was the result of interlocking trends within capitalism, technology, and ecology—as are other recent catastrophes of power infrastructure. […]

The contrast between RECs and IOUs also hinges on another less obvious, but equally important dynamic: profit. The ability to extract and accumulate surplus revenue has an enormous impact on power relations.