JUST TRANSITION: ELECTRIC DISTRIBUTION UTILITIES HEADING INTO A DECARBONIZING WORLD
De Leon, Maria Soledad C.
Electric distribution utilities link individuals to the vast infrastructure involved in generating electricity. Because of the utilities’ intermediary role, it is important to study whether justice or injustice is considered in the regulation and operations of the industry.This paper seeks to answer the question of whether the Philippine electric distribution industry is positioned to ensure a transition that is just and equitable. The focus will be on the decision-making processes and assessing whether they are structured to allow for justice issues to be addressed.The research is interdisciplinary. It begins with a document review intended to identify where considerations about justice are identified and addressed. This was followed by a systems analysis. This is a method of analysis that visualizes complex processes to reveal how components of the system relate to and affect one another. The objective of the analysis is to identify areas of tension and points of leverage in the system.The research finds that the Philippines is positioned to support a just transition because community leaders, academic researchers, and other stakeholders have raised issues related to justice and equity, and the response is embedded within the structures of the electric distribution system. However, there are additional measures that need to be implemented.The Philippines has well-established policies and processes that address distributive justice and capabilities. These policies are focused on reducing the energy cost burden for low-income households and providing electricity services to the communities that do not have access. Procedural justice, however, is not robustly addressed. End user input is limited to providing feedback on electricity prices and service levels. To establish the foundations for a just transition, the government must develop policies that encourage proactive participation in the decision-making process.The paper concludes with recommendations to refine policies that address issues related to affordability and access, to improve information sharing and feedback mechanisms within the system, and to engage in further studies to better understand the potential impact of climate change and decarbonization on the system.
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