This post originally appeared on SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab (MSL) news:

Human, Social, And Cultural Practices Work Advances

MSL is pleased to announce that its inaugural research publication is available for download: Human, Social, And Cultural Practices For Rural Electrification Using Microgrids develops a critical set of insights and tools to ensure the success of rural microgrid (and other technology) deployments based on essential aspects of community engagement and input. This work was the subject of the MSL-hosted workshop in May 2014, and formed part of a Stage 1 feasibility study for rural deployments in India. MSL is now part of a consortium comprising MSL Members General MicroGrids, Inc. and The Energy and Resources Institute, along with Alstom Grid USA, India Smart Grid Forum, and India’s TERRE Policy Center, which is assembling funding for Stage 2 design and deployment work. In addition, MSL is developing the Center for Participatory Energy Practice (CPEP), and through it will support training and community engagement work in the field.

As MSL Advisor and principal author Christian Casillas, Ph.D. points out in the introduction to the white paper, “New technologies, increased financing, and strengthened political will have made the possibility of universal electricity access feasible in the not-so-distant future…. But while cost is certainly a primary challenge for electrifying the poorest, most remote communities, decades of rural electrification and development projects have demonstrated the overwhelming likelihood of long-term failure when developers do not engage in an iterative process of learning, reflection, and correction with the beneficiary communities.”

Based in part upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and General MicroGrids, the paper goes on to say, “The long term success of these projects, and the potential value that electrification brings to the goals and visions within communities, is linked to developers’ capacities to understand and engage with community members. We therefore advocate an approach that focuses on the importance of community-centered practices in the development of electricity systems in rural communities, integrating essential human, social, and cultural (HSC) factors in the design, development, utilization, and operation of rural microgrids.” Download the full report here, and contact MSL regarding CPEP participation, training, and field project support.