Journal article

Exploring the Links between Community-based Governance and Sustainable Energy use: Quantitative Evidence from Flanders

Community-based energy organizations have been said to influence their members’ energy-related behavior by activating social norms and by providing trustworthy information about sustainable energy investments and behaviors. However, little is known yet about members’ actual energy use and how it differs from that of individuals who do not participate in such projects. In particular, selection effects are likely to arise, i.e. community-based energy projects may attract people that are different from the underlying population in terms of energy use. This article empirically addresses the question of the selection into community-based energy projects in terms of energy use, focusing on the case of renewable energy cooperatives. Based on quantitative data from an original survey conducted with one renewable energy cooperative in Flanders and using probit regression analyses, it contrasts a sample of cooperative members with an appropriate comparison group in terms of electricity usage. The results show that electricity consumption is positively related with cooperative membership, suggesting that high use consumers have greater incentives to join a community-based organization which provides assistance and advice on the adoption of green technologies and energy efficiency measures. These findings contribute to an understanding of the relationship between community-based governance and sustainable energy practices.

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