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The Democratization of Energy

Joseph Tomain is Dean Emeritus and a Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. His article discusses the “Democratization of Energy.” The electricity industry is changing in dramatic ways. Most significantly, as demonstrated by the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, the country is witnessing the merger of energy and environmental regulation. Historically, energy regulation was driven by the need to produce more power for economic growth. By contrast, environmental regulation attended to the pollution of the environment. Production of energy depends upon the use of natural resources, and throughout the fuel cycle from extraction and transportation to the burning and disposal of those resources, the environment is directly affected. Most dramatically, greenhouse gas emissions present climate change challenges. In order to effectively address those challenges and transition to a clean energy future, it is necessary that we rethink our energy and environmental politics. This Article argues that we are experiencing change in energy/environmental politics and as a consequence of that change, decisions are being decentralized and consumers have a greater input into their energy choices. This expansion of decision making constitutes the democratization of energy.


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