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  • Writer's pictureJulian Knight

Energy Justice

Written by: Julian Knight

Edited by: Sophie Wisden

The renewable energy sector, more so than many other industries, involves and necessitates the consideration of a wide range of stakeholders. Governments, households, clean tech startups, and the finance sector are all stakeholders that occupy important roles in the renewable energy sector. These stakeholders are interdependently connected and rely on one another for the well-being of the renewable energy industry as a whole.

In its simplest form, energy justice addresses the disparities prevalent in the access, distribution, and decision-making processes related to energy, allowing for all voices to be heard, including communities that are being provided with energy (Merino et al, 2020). Historically, marginalized communities such as low-income or remote communities, have borne a disproportionate burden of environmental degradation and energy poverty (Merino et al, 2020). Energy justice posits that an energy transition can only occur through the democratization of energy production and consumption (Merino et al, 2020). In other words, access to energy must be equitable among all users and stakeholders. This article will demonstrate that energy justice is a useful framework when devising solutions for marginalized or remote communities.


Theories of energy justice can be applied in a wide variety of situations involving stakeholders of the sector, and a great deal of positive change has been made thanks to the utilization of the framework (Bledsoe and Gatkuoth, 2023). Indigenous communities – in particular remote communities – have integrated energy justice theories into power purchase agreements (PPAs), helping accelerate an Indigenous-led clean energy transition (Bledsoe and Gatkuoth, 2023). A PPA is a long-term contract between  an electricity generator – provided through an energy company – and a customer, which establishes the duration, the quantity, the price, and other components to energy provision (Bledsoe and Gatkuoth, 2023). Achieving favourable PPA outcomes is often difficult and can result in lengthy discussions between the producer and the community (Bledsoe and Gatkuoth, 2023). In Canada particularly, utility providers such as Hydro-Quebec and BC Hydro run as monopolies, which in theory would cause incredibly high PPA rates due to high purchasing power (Bledsoe and Gatkuoth, 2023). However, these companies have the government as the only shareholder, and are therefore regulated and run according to public interest. Due to the increased necessity for both climate action and Indigenous reconciliation, energy providers justify spending more money on remote communities, as it benefits public interest (Bledsoe and Gatkuoth, 2023). The inclusion of the energy justice framework in PPA’s allows all actors, including governments, utilities, and Indigenous clean energy proponents, to come together on terms reflecting Canada’s priorities of climate action and reconciliation. 

Energy justice also sees its applications outside of North America, and is perhaps most relevant in the Global South, where energy disparity is most prevalent. Generación Comunitaria, a community-led organization in Chile, empowers Indigenous and non-Indigenous Chileans to pursue ownership and engagement of energy projects in association with energy companies (Merino et al, 2020). Unlike the prior example of Indigenous communities in Canada which empowers communities to increase their bargaining power with energy companies, Generacion Comunitaria advocates for a form of community ownership within the industry, signaling a more integrated and involved solution to issues in the renewable energy industry (Merino et al, 2020). This movement has seen the rise due to a lack of consideration of both the individual and collective rights of Chileans, resulting in energy inequity among the Chilean population (Merino et al, 2020). Community Generation works from the establishment of “company-community” pairs (Merino et al, 2020). Company-community pairs coordinate work with a company operating within a specific territory, and connect them with communities in the company’s area of influence. Generación Comunitaria is still in its early stages, yet community owners who are involved in the partnership have contributed a total of 150 MW into the electricity system, equating to around USD $350 millions in private investment (Merino et al, 2020).


In conclusion, energy justice is a theoretical framework that can be transformed into a practical imperative that underpins the transition towards a more sustainable and equitable energy future. Energy justice sets the stage for discussions between the sector, government and communities to determine how energy should be provided in a way that accounts for the needs of an affected community and customer. As countries strive to decarbonize their economies, they must equally remain vigilant in addressing energy inequity, taking into account the root causes and potential solutions in order to mitigate and avoid it. Principles of energy justice are especially useful and impactful when they are used to mitigate these socio-economic inequities that can happen.



Bledsoe, A., and Gatkuoth, B. (2023). Energy justice in remote communities. Pembina Institute.

Merino, F., et al. (2020) Chapter 19 - An inclusive and participative 

model for energy transition in Latin America: the case of Chilean Generación 

Comunitaria, Editor(s): Lucas Noura Guimarães, The Regulation and Policy of Latin American Energy Transitions, Elsevier,, Pages 331-345, ISBN 9780128195215,


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