Socialize the Energy Sector

"Socialize the Energy Sector!"

Below are links to background readings for a panel discussion held at the Left Forum in New York City on June 9, 2013, the video for which can be viewed here: Part 1Part 2Part 3

A November 8, 2013 "Democratize the Energy Sector" presentation at the James Connolly Forum in Troy, New York by Howie Hawkins and Sean Sweeney can be viewed here.


Howie Hawkins, Green Party; Charles Komanoff, Carbon Tax Center and Transportation Alternatives; Leonard Rodberg, Professor and Chair of Urban Studies at Queens College/CUNY; Jill Stein, 2012 Green Party candidate for President; Sean Sweeney, Cornell Global Labor Institute and Trade Unions for Energy Democracy

Panel Description: 

Bill McKibben's “Global Warming's Terrifying New Math” shows that to keep global warming below the tipping point for climate catastrophe of a 2 degree Celsius rise, 80 percent of proven global fossil fuels reserves must remain in the ground and unburned. Those fossil fuel reserves are worth $27 trillion at today's prices. It is inconceivable that 80 percent of fossil fuel reserves will remain unburned as long as they are controlled by profit-seeking corporations, whether privately or state owned. It is therefore time for the climate justice movement and the Left to raise the demand to socialize and democratize the energy sector. This panel will discuss the history, politics, and economics of energy democracy, including the public ownership model developed by US progressives in response to the 1973 energy crisis, the problems of autocratic state-owned oil companies that seek to maximize earnings rather than public and environmental good, and the role a national carbon tax and dividend system that includes carbon border taxes on the carbon content of imports can play in internationalizing energy democracy.

A plan for 100% renewable energy in New York State by 2030:

Mark Z. Jacobson et al., "Examining the feasibility of converting New York State’s all-purpose energy infrastructure to one using wind, water, and sunlight," Energy Policy, March 2013.

Four documents about socializing and democratizing the energy sector in the United States developed by movements in the 1970s against nuclear power and for affordable energy from solar-derived renewables:

1. "Alternative Energy System" from New Energy by James Ridgeway and Bettina Conner (Boston: Beacon Press, 1975). Alternative_Energy_System_(New_Energy__1974).pdf

2. "National Energy Plan," from Energy-Efficient Community Planning by James Ridgeway (Public Resources Center, June 1979).  Nat'l_Energy_Plan_(Energy-Efficient_Community_Planning__1979).pdf

3. "Model State Energy Act" by Lee Webb and Jeff Faux, printed in the Congressional Record, December 18, 1974, at the request of Sen. Lee Metcalf (D-MT).  Model_State_Energy_Act__Dec._1974.pdf

4. "The Big Switch: A Plan to Save New York" by Leonard Rodberg and Geoffrey Stokes, Village Voice, February 18, 1980, about solar power through public power in New York City. Two parts: Binder1.pdf  Binder2.pdf

Trade Unions for Energy Democracy:

Sean Sweeney, Global Labor Institute, "Resist, Reclaim, Restructure: The Trade Union Struggle for Energy Democracy."

Current Public Power Campaigns:

"Cities Weigh Taking Over From Private Utilities, NY Times, March 13, 21013.

Carbon Tax and Dividend:

Carbon Tax Center,

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