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Center for EmPowering Communities

Integrating leading-edge social science research with technology design, community engagement, and policymaking to foster decarbonization solutions that advance community goals.

Increasing the use of renewable energy entails a geographical shift in energy production. Currently, most energy in the United States comes from large, centralized fossil fuel and nuclear power plants sited in or near urban areas (where much of that power is used). By contrast, renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, are scalable, thereby allowing for a more distributed power generation network.

However, renewables also require more land area per energy unit than traditional power plants. This means that the shift toward renewable energy will put far more—and different—people in contact with energy infrastructure. Since land in urban areas is inadequate to meet cities’ energy needs, the energy transition will require siting renewable energy infrastructure in rural communities. The Center for EmPowering Communities works to align the energy transition with community goals.