Public Power/Energy Democracy

Community Energy Cooperative (CEC)

CEC is the NYC branch of COOP Power which is a cooperative based in western Massachusetts that helps low-income people of color who are renters install solar arrays, wind turbines and biofuel systems, which they eventually end up owning and managing. Professor Menser was asked to help form the board of the CEC early in 2019 and has been aiding them in their work in NYC.

They have asked Center for Study of Brooklyn (CSB) to support their work in Brooklyn with the array at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, which is now part of Solar Sunset Park. CSB placed a Brooklyn College student Galilea Mattias who is knowledgeable about coops and energy democracy to intern with CEC through Spring 2020 to do outreach to the Spanish speaking community.

LIPA Reimagined: Building the Public Utility Long Island Deserves

After Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storm Isaias in August this much is clear: storms are getting worse and more frequent, and trust in LIPA’s public-private partnerships is plummeting. And we fear that Long Island will experience such outages again unless LIPA undergoes serious structural change.

Read an op ed Professor Menser co-wrote with Lisa Tyson, the director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.

In February 2021, Professor Menser participated in a public forum to discuss the future governance and operations of the Long Island Power Authority. We went over the history of the utility, the benefits of public power, and offered ideas for more participatory structures of governance for the utility. Watch now!

Texas Power Crisis

In March of 2021, a 5-minute educational video by Brooklyn College features Professor Menser discussing the Texas Power Crisis.

Since mid-February, the world has watched as the citizens of Texas face the catastrophic consequences of an unprecedented winter storm that left millions without power and drinkable water in freezing temperatures. While the extent of the tragedy is still being processed, there are many questions about what went wrong.

Professor Menser lived on the Gulf Coast of Texas as a child. His familiarity with the situation is not only observational, but personal.

“Many have died. The Houston Chronicle reported that over 50 have died in Houston alone. Mostly freezing to death, mostly elderly,” says Menser, who is also a member of the board of the Center for the Study of Brooklyn whose areas of research include sustainability and resilience as well as participatory democracy.

On top of the devastating loss of human life, the tragedy has had profound economic impact, with property damage and energy bills skyrocketing to astronomical costs.

“There could be more than 125 billion dollars in damages, which would make it the most costly disaster in Texas history,” says Menser, author of We Decide! Theories and Cases in Participatory Democracy (Temple University Press, 2018).

Menser notes that Texas has seen numerous natural disasters in its recent past, many exacerbated by the effects of climate change. We talked to him about his insight into the current situation, its contributing factors, and how it can serve as an important lesson for the future.