chapter  4
22 Pages

Urban Living Labs for the Smart Grid

Experimentation, governmentality and urban energy transitions
ByAnthony M. Levenda

A variety of urban actors are increasingly experimenting with smart grid technologies to simultaneously address climate change, environmental, economic and sustainability concerns. This chapter engages with the concept of urban living labs (ULL) to investigate how experimentation impacts the city and its citizens. The ULL project started as a partnership with the University of Texas, the Mueller Development, the City of Austin, Austin Energy (the municipal utility), the Austin Technology Incubator and industry partners led by the non-profit umbrella organisation. As smart technologies are implemented in the context of ULL, they configure particular sets of user practices normal and acceptable, while also creating new path dependencies and reconfigurations of urban infrastructure. As protected niches, ULL might serve as mediators in urban energy transitions, but they are also geographical configurations that leverage local and regional assets to address more than local concerns and influence broader global audiences.