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Masters Thesis Ali Crighton

  1. State of Empowerment in Irish CEIs
  2. Drivers of (Dis)empowerment in Irish CEIs
  3. Tailor to risk appetite and capacity Self-determined motivation Facilitate tangible impacts SEC Energy Master Plan Community-level support Recommendations for Policy and Practice Internal and external social ties 01 03 04 06 02 05
  4. 01 02 03 04 05 Burnout Concerns over long- term viability Room for improvement State of empowerment could be improved Collaboration CEIs circumventing government may be undesirable for the Energy Transition Personalisation needed Factors work differently for each CEI Structural barriers Same for over a decade Implications and Contribution

Notas del editor

  1. 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 Discussion 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.
  2. 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 Collective self-efficacy 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 Burnout 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 Social capital 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.
  3. 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 Community-level support 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
  4. Contribution to SD and societal implications