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Everything must change in order to stay as it is. The impossible decentralization of the electricity sector in France

Abstract : Driven by many actors, the issue of energy decentralization has reappeared on the French political agenda. Celebrated in the past for its capacity to modernize and electrify territories, the centralized model now appears in crisis and is disputed for its inability to meet the new challenges of energy transition. On the contrary, local authorities are put forward, given the strengths they may have, in terms of knowledge of territories, proximity to citizens or synergy. Symbolizing this growing interest, the reference to "territories", to "local authorities", to "decentralization" has now become unavoidable in legal texts, giving rise to an abundant academic literature. There is a significant gap, in France, between this new rhetoric and the institutional reality, and the centralized model remains firmly established. We propose to explain this permanence by using a multilevel analysis approach mobilizing the concept of "policy networks". We first draw a mapping of the different forces involved in the issue of energy decentralization, highlighting ideas and interests they defend, as well as the resources they can mobilize. In a second part, we show how these different networks have shaped an institutional framework in which the role of local authorities remains highly controlled. In the energy industry sector, it is essentially reduced to the distribution segment. In other areas where energy is involved (housing, urban and regional planning, etc.), this role is more important, since local authorities are more perceived as allies by centralizing forces, able to territorialize the energy policy objectives they defend.
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Submitted on : Thursday, February 13, 2020 - 11:30:20 AM
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François-Mathieu Poupeau. Everything must change in order to stay as it is. The impossible decentralization of the electricity sector in France. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, 2020, 120, ⟨10.1016/j.rser.2019.109597⟩. ⟨halshs-02477203⟩



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