Monday, June 12, 2023

Mahmood Muttaqee PhD Dissertation Defense

June 12, 11 am, Bexell 414 or Zoom (contact for the link)

Community Perceptions and Response to Microgrid Proposals- Case Studies from the US.


Abstract: Microgrids could improve grid reliability and resiliency, while decentralizing, decarbonizing, and democratizing electricity provision. Recent federal and state level policies and investments have sought to encourage their development. Yet, little research has been done to understand how communities respond to microgrid proposals – a factor that will likely become increasingly important as microgrids scale up (both in numbers and size) and touch multiple stakeholders. Using frameworks from social movement studies and energy social science, this dissertation analyzes 12 case studies of microgrid proposals across the US – examining relevant media coverage and policy documents (n=1118) and conducting semi-structured interviews with active stakeholders (n=70). Each case followed one of five different paths with regard to community response, ranging from widespread opposition (n=1), initial indifference followed by opposition (n=1), low levels of opposition (n=3), indifference (n=4), and community support (n=3) – depending on the combination of threat, resources and political opportunity. Community leaders and local citizens initially viewed microgrids favorably, particularly those utilizing renewable energy as their primary generation source. Utility-backed proposals providing multiple component benefits in addition to resiliency – such as peak shaving and/or cost savings for utilities and transmission owners – proved more successful than those proposed by other entities without such benefits. Early, sustained, and responsive community engagement by the developer was also critical to project success.

Committee Members: Hilary Boudet, Brent Steel, David Bernell, Bryan Tilt