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Wind Power and the Uneven Urban Fabric of Renewable Energy Transitions

Authors: Joshua Cousins*, SUNY-ESF
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Energy
Keywords: political ecology, wind power, energy geography, urbanization, transitions
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Renewable energy transitions are reworking the geographies of energy production, consumption, and distribution in new ways. In particular, they are redrawing the map of the low-carbon economy and creating spatial differentiation that enables and constraints the possibilities of a just transition. Focusing on the spatial linkages between wind energy development in Wyoming and growing demand for renewable energy in California, I examine the spatially-constituted processes of renewable energy transitions in the American West. While California is often regarded as a leader in shaping policy around climate change and the environment, Wyoming, in contrast, is heavily reliant on a fossil fuel economy. Wyoming, however, is also a top state for renewable energy development, especially wind. This has not been lost on developers, including oil and gas firms, hoping to bring this clean energy to the California market. Drawing on fieldwork in Wyoming and California, this paper reveals the spatial differences and uneven spatial interactions that hinder policy goals and constrain opportunities for a just energy transition.

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