Tailor to unique
risk appetite and
More visible /
tangible tasks and
What can be done?
Notas do Editor
Data from interviews indicated that CEI members are mostly experiencing Agency to Autonomy levels of empowerment
It evolves overtime in two ways: increasing experience and skills empowers them but accumulation of set-backs and structural barriers over time leads to a disempowering effect through burnout
But overall, longer standing CEIs show higher levels compared to newer ones whose autonomy is limited by lack of skills, resources, funding, and experience.
Evidence of power-shift level of empowerment in the way in which CEIs are sidestepping conventional routes. E.g., aiming to be fully independent financially and not rely on the national electricity grid to distribute energy. Some participants spoke about wanting to side-step the inertia and bureaucracy of government.
Overall there is potential to reach higher levels of empowerment among CEIs
The findings show that autonomy is lacking within CEIs due to structural barriers and dependence on insufficient external support. Through improving their autonomy, CEIs could be better empowered.
There is a sense that the state is misusing communities. There may be a divergence in what different stakeholders perceive to be adequate empowerment.
Some innovative, risk-neutral CEIs seek out routes to circumvent the government showing a process of self-empowerment. But mostly, CEIs are at the level in which autonomy is lacking but they do have agency
Previous lit shows societal change can still occur at the agency level but this thesis indicated that the long-term viability could be in question since participants all expressed issues with burnout and overburden leading them to question continuing - an increase in autonomy would allow CEIs to act in alignment with their unique goals and act more creatively - this enhances ownership and enjoyment
In conclusion, the research does not suggest that CEIs need to be 100% independent to feel empowered and contribute to the energy transition, but they should have the freedom and autonomy to act in alignment with their own goals and should be supported by non-hierarchical relationships with governing entities.
Incorporating data from all interviews with both CEI representatives and support-bodies.
Enablers mostly on the community-level
Barriers mostly on the policy and systems level
Plays out as both an enabler and barrier and is linked to CEI’s risk appetite and attitude.
It is highly personal to CEIs and advises for personalised strategies
Newer CEIs with lower sense of competency and risk appetite seem to be better empowered through a ‘start small’ approach
But other CEIs are more risk-neutral and have a high sense of competence, they desire more independence and appear to actually be disempowered by the risk averse approach of governing entities which they felt blocks their goals
Attitude: can-do versus defeatism - the findings show that collective self efficacy is increased when CEIs feel they have an impact on the specific meaning for their actions. It is not the scale or content that matters but the belief in their impact
Burden and pressure - inadequate tangible outcomes - resilience appears to be lacking in the face of challenges
Policy and systems
Sense of being nudged by governing entities and blocked by structural barriers
Sense that no level of motivation will lead to their goals
Same barriers have been impeding CEIs for over a decade - based on previous research
Many different forms of social capital were found to be empowering
Ties within CEIs, between them and governing entities, and between CEIs and the community and CEIs themselves all were important.
Facilitate self-determined motivation
unique goals - flexibility and creative expression
E.g., SEC focus groups to co-create progress maps with clearly defined objectives e.g., X jobs created or No. of households upgraded
E.g., EMP: should be more flexible and need for Post-EMP pathways e.g., mentor support and funding
Energy Master Plan and the authorities
Energy planning by community volunteers should be secondary to the work done by local authorities and statutory organisations, not a replacement for it
Support: define the role of local authorities - a designated staff member for the purpose of collaborating with the SEC Network
issues with external consultants who are not selected by the CEI but assigned to them - they should have the option to do it themselves or tender it to a consultant of their choice - more efficiency needed here
EMP consultant panel training: currently the standard is reportedly low and CEI should be allowed to be actively involved in the EMP
Huge financial admin hassle of being reimbursed for the consultant fees for the EMP - process could be simplified by having an EMP consultant panel and financing through the local authorities or LCDCs (local community development committees) - avoid burden on community to source funding upfront - an unnecessary waste of community good-will
Risk appetite and volunteer capacity
E.g., Register of Opps in the EMP is a generic list of potential actions, instead it should be a Climate Action Plan that is tailored to the CEI
E.g., some don’t have the volunteer capacity to do the EMP - should be more flexible or optional
But keep balance so that too much responsibility is not put on CEIs
Facilitate tangible impacts
Enhances collective self efficacy, keeps people engaged and prevents burnout
E.g., EMP - high input but low tangible outcomes -> Funding SECs receive currently all used in EMP process to external consultants could be partially redirected toward community projects e.g., funding cost of preparing and submitting applications for gov schemes (paperwork) - there is a lack of funding for post-EMP
E.g., community rooftop solar
Internal and external social ties - esp with the support bodies - to counteract fragmentation
E.g., engagement between Local Authorities staff and SEC mentors
Not enough cross fertilisation from CEI to CEI - lessons can be shared - repetition of processes - inefficient e.g., completed EMPs should be shared
An SEAI SEC HUB should be accessible to all e.g., for poster and press-release templates - channels for ongoing horizontal networking between SECs - peer learning
E.g., SEC Network could facilitate project coordinators at the community level who could help with gov scheme and grants applications - by providing training and a ringfenced project coordinator fund
Or room for CEFI / GAA / TT to expand