In collaboration with ILSR and the Sierra Club, this research aimed to understand the mechanisms cities use to achieve their renewable energy goals while implementing and maintaining energy democracy. A national survey was created to assess the relevance and functionality of various mechanisms alongside energy democracy within city plans and actions. Three case studies were completed to supplement the survey data and gain an in-depth insight from cities with formal commitments. The report presents in-depth case studies exploring the mechanisms of energy transition in Traverse City, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; and Columbia, South Carolina. The report also offers a series of recommendations to help cities that have both committed to 100% renewable energy and those cities considering making an 100% renewable energy commitment. (Click image to right for full report)

Watch the research webinar (April 30, 2020)

View the research findings presentation



This project would not have been possible without the support and assistance of many people. First, thank you to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) for providing this research opportunity. ILSR staff members John Farrell, Marie Donahue, Maria McCoy, and the Institute at large provided thoughtful feedback throughout the development of the project. We appreciate every minute of the time that you put toward providing feedback, contacts, and other resources for us that made this project possible. Thank you to the Sierra Club, especially Olka Forster and Rachel Dupree, for extending resources to strengthen the outreach network of this project and for helping distribute our survey. We hope that you will find this project helpful for you, your campaign, transitioning cities, and their leaders as you all push forward local renewable energy transitions. 

Our case study experiences gave valuable, detailed context to this research thanks to the cooperation of numerous interviewees. Thank you for taking the time out of your workday to consider your city’s transition and share your stories, experiences, and concerns surrounding the huge changes that you all are helping lead. To all the survey respondents, thank you for broadening the lens of this research by, in aggregate, becoming a source of information on a national movement. All of these efforts and findings have been quickly and elegantly conveyed thanks to graphic designer Alexa Causey. 

Lastly, thank you to our advisor Dr. Tony Reames, whose guidance and insights helped inspire and push this project into an impactful, practical, and accessible resource. Thank you for all of your assistance, quick communication, and patience. We are grateful to have had you advise our project and support us with confidence and wisdom.