WC CES Announces Rural Energy Project with Presentation April 17

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Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society (CES) will announce a new project aimed to ensure that energy in rural areas is clean, resilient, and democratic. Grant Samms, an environmental sociologist who studies issues of rural energy resilience and conservation at CES, will give a presentation on the Rural Energy Projecton April 17 at 6:30 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, Toll Science Center. The public is welcome to attend.

“We envision rural communities that are powered through renewable and local methods, can continue to thrive despite the consequences of a changing climate, and have a voice over the energy development that happens nearby,” says Samms, coordinator of the Rural Energy Project. “Through the application of research and lessons learned from all over the world, the Rural Energy Project can help communities in Maryland transition to a new energy future.”

Through stories and case studies, Samms will explore the factors that underpin how we feel about clean energy development close to home. He will touch on questions such as how do people view clean energy development? Why do some people enjoy seeing wind and solar, and others say it just doesn’t “fit” with the community?

Grant Samms

The Rural Energy Project is dedicated to helping smaller, rural communities take advantage of a new, clean-energy world.

“While most attention is given to larger cities like New York and Boston, over a third of all Americans live in rural areas. We need everyone working together to avert climate change and create a sustainable society,” Samms says.“The Rural Energy Project helps rural communities thrive through this transition.”

The project intends to accomplish this in three ways. First, by helping rural governments analyze how much energy their municipal operations use, the project can help them find tools and resources to lower their energy costs and cut carbon emissions. Second, CES is working with an alliance of energy nonprofits to develop a new method of identifying communities that are especially vulnerable to electricity blackouts and disruptions. With this method, rural governments can work to install emergency microgrids to ensure critical infrastructure like medical and emergency response services can still operate in extreme disasters,like that recently seen in Puerto Rico.

And third, the project will use the tools of social science to research how to best approach clean energy development. When energy developers try to make changes in a community they don’t fully understand, they often encounter resistance that wastes time and resources for everyone. The Rural Energy Project’s research will help developers take a better approach toward development that gives stakeholders in communities more say over local development.

To learn more about the Center for Environment & Society or for more information on this and other events please visit www.washcoll.edu/centers/ces.

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