Perspectives on Power: Reflective dialogue with communities affected by large-scale renewable energy projects

Growing opposition to renewable energy projects is blocking the speed and scale of the necessary energy transition, but local governments are responding by superseding community consultation instead of increasing it. In California, the new Assembly Bill 205 attempts to streamline projects at the state level, pre-empting local environmental reviews, exacerbating intergovernmental conflicts, and threatening Tribal rights to sovereignty. Through Perspectives on Power, MCP student Anushree Chaudhuri traveled around her home state to document the perspectives of rural and Tribal communities who are at the heart of the U.S. energy transition but are often left behind when planning for a clean grid.

Chaudhuri conducted independent fieldwork at two sites of planned utility-scale renewable energy projects in California—in San Diego and Shasta County—that have been the focus of considerable public opposition. Through semi-structured interviews and two small-group facilitated stakeholder workshops, she recorded the underlying values and interests that drive siting decisions and community dynamics around large-scale infrastructure changes. Collaborating with MIT's Center for Constructive Communication, Chaudhuri used the platform to conduct sensemaking of the interviews and conversations, sharing the results back to the communities she worked with. Chaudhuri is continuing an ongoing online documentation of community perspectives on power systems and energy burden.

This project is led by Chaudhuri with support from Lawrence Susskind and the MIT Renewable Energy Clinic team, the MIT Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center, the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium, the MIT Center for Constructive Communication, and MIT alum Adam Hasz (MCP '18).


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