Sociology Faculty Publications and Presentations

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This study explores perceptions of fossil fuel interests and the role narratives of fossil fuel obstruction play in slowing down the renewable energy transition in Puerto Rico. We analyzed interviews conducted with 56 “energy actors” engaged in Puerto Rico's energy system about their visions of the system's future and perceptions of the influence of different actors in promoting change or reinforcing the status-quo. The analysis also examined the use of discourses of delay in participant interviews using a framework proposed by Lamb et al. (2020). Our interviews revealed that a wide range of energy actors perceived obstruction by fossil fuel interests as shaping Puerto Rico's energy transition, and used discourses of delay to describe Puerto Rico's energy transition, but also employed narratives that countered this obstruction and resisted fossil fuel interests. The results depict the conflicted nature of Puerto Rico's energy transition: on the one hand there was widespread agreement across a wide range of actors that the future of Puerto Rico's energy system would eventually be renewable based, and at the same time, there were significant doubts that a renewable transition could or would occur. The complex interplay among perceptions of the influence of fossil fuel interests, discourses of delay, and narratives of resistance and community power offers insights into why renewable energy deployment has been slow in Puerto Rico, despite the possibility of a rapid transition after Hurricane Maria devastated the energy system in 2017 and ambitious energy policies were passed.


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Energy Research & Social Science



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Sociology Commons



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