The Role of Utility Companies In Municipal Planning of Smart Energy Communities
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionInternational Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning. 2017, 13 (4), 695-706. 10.2495/SDP-V13-N4-695-706
Bergen and Oslo municipalities focus on integrating energy concerns into city planning and regard this as an opportunity to further lower greenhouse gas emissions. Due to a lack of tools and clear definitions of what Smart Energy Communities (SECs) are and how planning should be done in order to affect the overarching emission reduction goals, utility companies end up taking a leading role as advisors and influence definitions and strategies in the final design. Based on two case studies of SEC projects in Norway, the authors highlight the need for increased work to create feasible and understandable definitions and strategies for the planning of SECs. In our case studies, city planners struggle to include energy aspects in the early planning phase and to align their objectives of citizen well-being and reduced private car dependency with energy concerns. At the same time, utility companies respond to the perceived threat of more self-sufficient communities by depicting a role closer to the end-user and by offering a pragmatic cost/benefit view on the planning of energy supply options.