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Stephen M. McCauley and Jennie C. Stephens

Electricity systems worldwide are in the midst of major changes as renewable energy expands and related infrastructures and governance regimes adapt toward a post-fossil fuel future. At the same time, human societies are becoming increasingly dependent on electricity as more basic societal functions are electrified. As this energy transition progresses, energy geographies are reconfigured, as technologies, infrastructures, institutions and cultural practices shift to accommodate new norms of energy production and consumption. The emerging landscape of renewable power is more distributed, decentralized and heterogeneous compared to the highly centralized production and transmission of electricity in the fossil fuel era. The authors explore the implications of this shift for opportunities for publics to participate meaningfully in and share benefits from the electricity sector. Using a comparative framework, they suggest that a shift to renewable electricity could create societal opportunities for participation and control.