People’s Republic of Energy

Co-ordinated by Energy Democracy Greater Manchester with Carbon Coop, this Jam and Justice action research project ran an inquiry into how workers and citizens might become more involved in the governance of the energy system, as a way of addressing societal issues such as fuel poverty and climate change. We are a group of climate activists, council officers, technology experts, elected politicians, trade unionists, grid specialists, researchers, co-operative practitioners and self-proclaimed policy wonks discussing and planning the opportunity of democratically controlled energy in Greater Manchester.

Download the report: "GM Energy Futures: Municipal Energy Scenarios Explored"; read the profile to learn how this project shaped Carbon Coop's work; or scroll down to watch a short video about the project.

The aim was to positively influence local policy makers. We had a key focus on bringing the findings of the enquiry to Andy Burnham’s climate conference in Spring 2018 and sharing them with a wider public -- achieved in part through our GM Energy Futures report.

The process was one of hands-on enquiry and open-minded dialogue. We agreed to challenge and be challenged, respect other view points and maybe even change our minds. Next to desk-based research we came together for a mapping workshop, a visit to a distribution company and a guided walk of the past and present of Manchester energy systems (repeated in 2019). And we collected local, national and international examples we can learn from and connect with and share.

The questions that underpinned our research for Jam and Justice include:

  • What barriers currently exist to incorporating citizens and workers in a municipal energy company in Greater Manchester according to a) policy makers b) energy system activists c) citizens; and d) workers?
  • What examples already exist of meaningful and successful engagement of citizens and workers; and what existing and new business models are there for an energy supply company in the UK or beyond?
  • In what ways have these been demonstrated to be effective and successful (e.g. on social, economic and environmental terms?) Does Greater Manchester offer equivalent structures/conditions within which to put in place similar models?
  • What currently unforeseen benefits might exist as side effects of worker and citizen participation in a municipal energy system in Manchester? Can these be built into the design of a municipal energy company for Greater Manchester?
  • How can insights from this Jam and Justice project inform the design of a municipal energy company in Greater Manchester that will help establish values of equality, fairness and sustainability at the heart of energy provision?

Lead delivery partners Carbon Coop are now applying some of the lessons learned in developing mPOWER, a Horizon 2020-funded peer-learning programme to assist municipalities in creating a fair, clean and democratic energy future. ARC and Carbon Coop staff member Laura Williams reports:

"We have drawn inspiration from the creative facilitation tools developed during Jam and Justice and hope that the mapping exercises, site visits and immersive theatre techniques will allow participants to share their knowledge and build lasting relationships".

Download a copy of the GM Energy Futures report, which reformulates real examples from our research as steps in the development of a municipally-owned and democratically run energy company. Read more about Carbon Coop, the Power in the City walks, and how this project has shaped their work.

Information about some parts of this project can be found on the archived website:

News, events and blog

More than sixty people gathered at the Ziferblat event space in Manchester’s Northern Quarter to celebrate the publication of the report, How can we govern cities differently? The promise and practices of co-production.

An Evening with Jam and Justice - How can we govern cities differently? (Banner image)
Wednesday, July 3, 2019 - 17:30 to 20:00
Ziferblat, Edge Street, Manchester, M4 1HW

The Jam and Justice Action Research Collective will be sharing what we have learned and celebrating the outcomes of our projects in Greater Manchester.

During the Energy Walk (People's Republic of Energy)
Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 16:45

In 2018, the People's Republic of Energy project ran a series of creative activities including a walk through the past and future of Greater Manchester's energy supply.

Walks will run again in 2019, in February and March, with support from project partners Carbon Coop.

Further information including all walk dates and how to book a place will be available from January.

‘Big Six' energy company price hikes, increasing numbers of people forced into energy poverty, market incumbents resisting change and the collapse of Carillion have all demonstrated the illusion of private sector efficiency and market primacy in the energy system – in fact the system is broken, unable to reform and in need a serious re-think!

Monday, June 11, 2018 - 12:00 to 13:30
Manchester Central Library

Devolution promised to open up new opportunities for community engagement and empowerment, shifting power from Whitehall to the Townhall. One year on since the election of Andy Burnham as Mayor of Greater Manchester, Jam and Justice's Action Research Collective are hosting a debate in Manchester Central Library to discuss the changing horizons of collective decision-making in Greater Manchester.