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Energy Policy for Energy Sovereignty: Can Policy Tools Enhance Energy Sovereignty?

The concept of energy sovereignty redefines the priorities for decision making regarding energy systems while encouraging increased reliance on renewable energy technologies like solar. Energy sovereignty involves centering the inherent right of humans and communities to make decisions about the energy systems they use, including decisions about the sources, scales, and forms of ownership that structure energy access. Current U.S energy policy does not center concerns of energy sovereignty, and in many cases may work against it. Policies to enhance energy sovereignty can accelerate electricity decarbonization while also empowering community scale decision making and offering communities control to reduce the myriad externalities associated with the fossil-fuel energy system. Energy policy designed based on the concept of energy sovereignty would prioritize community voices in energy system decision making, ensuring that communities are given an opportunity to express their right to self-determined sovereignty in energy systems transitions and energy system use. Energy sovereignty is an inherently place-based practice, and policy tools that center energy sovereignty would enhance community capacity to plan for transitions while embracing considerations of the health and wellbeing of communities, both human and non-human, now and in the future. The policy tools most effective for enhancing energy sovereignty may not yet exist, but they are essential for promoting a just energy transition that benefits all communities based on their own understanding of energy transition priorities and values.