Professor Gabriel Chan

HHH Sci, Tech & Environ Pol
Public Affairs, HHH School of
Twin Cities
Project Title: 
Operationalizing Energy Justice: A Novel Decomposition Method to Analyze Inequalities in Access to Energy Services

This project uses the software R to study energy assistance program access in Minnesota.

"Energy Justice" brings the systemic injustices in the energy systems to the forefront and suggests paths to transform the current energy transition to one that more equitably shares benefits, provides access to new opportunities, and reflects the will of those most impacted. Only a few studies build empirical evidence with the theory of energy justice still in its formative years and the broad challenges of measuring justice concepts more broadly. A limited number of studies and white papers have operationalized aspects of energy justice through performance "metrics" and energy justice "checklists." However, holistic empirical operationalization of energy justice concepts has not been thoroughly developed, obscuring both contemporary and historical equity assessments in the U.S. energy system. This study proposes a decomposition of energy consumption rates of households over a multi-decade time series to assess rates of household access to energy services that develops a better understanding of the drivers of household energy access and affordability. This study uses a novel decomposition method to national- and region-level residential energy consumption data in the United States to empirically analyze the inequalities in access to energy services and factors influencing energy burden.

Building on a framework for analyzing distributional inequalities in fuel poverty, this study examines energy justice through access to energy services and defines it through four energy justice "pillars" - energy prices, energy efficiency, energy burden, and overall income. When decomposed, the inequalities in access to energy services are attributable to disparities in incomes, energy prices, and housing and technology energy efficiency. The Kaya Identity decomposition method is used to assess inequalities in energy services- the energy services identity is decomposed by energy services, energy use, energy expenditure, income, and population. This analysis uses these four variables to analyze the trend of energy services in the U.S. residential sector from 1980 to 2017. This study transforms the residential energy services identity to the four policy variables to explicitly get policy levers- these levers are currently addressed through various federal and state-level policy programs. The four pillars offer a systematic approach to considering interventions that can address energy justice at its systemic roots, connecting possibilities for action to their impact on the dynamics of energy service access and energy burden. The operationalization of the energy justice pillars offers unique and concrete perspectives for linking the pillars to actual policy levers.

Project Investigators

Professor Gabriel Chan
Bhavin Pradhan
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