A Study of Energy Democracy in Mexico
Endorsing ‘energy democracy’ is an attempt to attain sustainable electricity. Although this ultimate goal is somewhat clear, conflict characterizes the different roads leading to the ‘ideal’ provision of this essential service. Public and private alternatives differ, and pro- and anti-market convictions. Despite being a polarized field, energy democracy is very rich because of its multidisciplinarity. It gathers issues concerning environmental and development studies, economics, philosophy, sociology, political science, engineering, and more. This particular study of energy democracy is twofold. First, I tackle the topic from a general, international perspective. Second, I focus on the specific case of Mexico. For both instances, I conduct a literature review of primary and secondary sources. I find that there is a lack of consensus on a definition of energy democracy, impelled by the wide ideological spectrum and lax theoretical boundaries. Thus, I claim five fundamental principles can better explain the term which I obtained from searching the most shared items in the range of advocacy. These principles are Decarbonization, Decentralization, Digitalization, Democratization and Equity (DDDDE). Also, my investigation intends to achieve more clarity by proposing an original categorization of energy democracy. I state there are three main typologies on the ground: neoliberal, statist and communitarian. After discussing the key lines of debate among typologies, I present a fieldwork component where I assessed the development of energy democracy in Mexico. By analyzing explicit and implicit mentions, and interviewing senior managers from private renewable energy companies (start-ups and B-corps), I conclude several approaches have been present in such context since the late 2000s, especially those qualifying as neoliberal. Such findings are relevant because most studies on energy democracy centre on European countries or the United States. In addition, most advocates sustain that energy democracy is strictly reserved for public ownership and finance. In contrast, my argument is that there are multiple forms of energy democracy, including private-oriented approaches. This research could be useful for individuals and organizations who wish to learn more about the different conceptions of the term, and also about a Latin American country which is debating about renewables and the democratization of energy.