Graduate Student Profiles

Dorraine Duncan

"My name is Dorraine Duncan. I'm a second year Master's student pursuing a dual degree in Public Policy, which is in Ivan Allen College, and City and Regional Planning, which is in School of Design.

"This summer I got offered an opportunity to be an intern with the Enterprise Innovation Institute in Tech Square. I'm from Jamaica and I'm really interested in development for the third world context, so I know that I want to combine renewable energy with that context but I wasn't sure how. We read a paper about community-based renewable energy and how community members are able to organize themselves and form use cooperatives.

"A cooperative -- any type of cooperative, a bicycle cooperative, a grocery cooperative -- they have the same principle, that it's consumer-owned, so the people who shop there are people who benefit from whatever output. They are also owners, they all have a financial stake within that business, whether it is putting money together to buy a wind turbine in the community or solar panels, they put money into it and they are the ones who are in charge of it, so it's a democratically run organization.

"My proposal was to catalogue characteristics of RE (renewable energy) co-ops to see how they were set up both financially, to see how they're organized on a managerial kind of position, how they started, what were their motivations for starting, and what were some of the outcomes: so, did they have economic benefits, did they have social benefits? For my research I started off with a database, I had to find sixty RE co-ops and I had a specific set of selection criteria; the sizes of the co-ops varied widely. I expected for like a community-based organization that they would all be really small; lots of the co-ops were massive, lots of the co-ops were able to work with either the public utilities or other governmental agencies to help create renewable energy plans, lots of them used schools and churches and community organizations that already had an impact within the communities and had a relationship with the people there. Most of them were in Europe, it's really popular -- Germany has the most RE co-ops in the world, so are a couple of the Nordic countries, Denmark, the Netherlands has quite a number and so does England.

"I do eventually want to create one myself, I don't know how that's going to work in a developing context, policies are completely different within a developing world, but I feel like the benefits of it are applicable to any country. The U.N. even talks about cooperatives as being a way to create sustainable development worldwide so hopefully I'm able to figure out the policy segment of how to make it applicable to Jamaica and then do it back home."