Joanne Randa Nucho

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pomona College

Grant number

Gr. 10270

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Nucho, Joanne (Pomona College) "Post-Grid Imaginaries: Climate Change, Wildfires and Energy Futures in California"

Under the emergency pressures of climate change, decentralizing the electrical grid through local energy generation and circulation seems increasingly inevitable. But is decentralization always a move towards energy justice? This project examines what I call ‘post-grid imaginaries’ in the context of climate change, and the tentative materializations of these imagined futures through projects ranging from municipal microgrids to individual home battery systems across California. My thesis is that there is potential for democratic, localized control over sustainable energy production and distribution, but this transformation could also entrench spatialized energy inequalities in a new, sustainable energy landscape. By examining a moment of grid failure and the politics of energy transition and climate change in California, my project challenges developmentalist assumptions about the supposedly different trajectories of the so-called global north and south. If electricity has acted as part of a discourse of progress, what does it mean for the vast dynamic system of the electrical grid to be reimagined as a profoundly decentralized, and increasingly disconnected, system? I will investigate how imagined futures in the context of a climate crisis are emerging in projects today that can be examined ethnographically in California.