Off-campus Michigan Tech users: To download campus access theses or dissertations, please use the following button to log in with your Michigan Tech ID and password: log in to proxy server

Non-Michigan Tech users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis or dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental and Energy Policy (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Social Sciences

Advisor 1

Roman Sidortsov

Committee Member 1

Chelsea Schelly

Committee Member 2

Mark Rouleau

Committee Member 3

Joshua Pearce


The past decade witnessed a significant level of improvement in energy access progress worldwide. However, the progress was not equitable across the globe. For example, a disproportionally large percentage of the population in the poorest global regions of sub-Saharan Africa remains without electricity access. Additionally, the manner in which some areas have been electrified raises questions of justice related to adequacy, appropriateness, and quality of service. Access to electricity is a prerequisite to the provision of basic services and economic growth. Those who live without access to electricity often do not have access to basic services to promote favorable human and economic development. This dissertation focuses on the integration of the energy justice concept in energy access planning to explore just electrification pathways for the energy poor. The current energy access planning process is disconnected from the intended goal of achieving just human development outcomes. The status quo system is driven by technical energy systems and their economics, which guide what energy use ought to be. This research deconstructs the status quo in energy access planning processes and explores a justice-based electrification paradigm that is guided by the provision of energy services to achieve just outcomes. It does so by shifting the perspective from one focused on the technical and economic metrics of the energy security of supply to the human security of energy services in planning and decision-making processes. Chapter two explores the empirical basis for just energy access and offers an initial justice framework. Chapter three examines what it means to be energy secure or insecure from the perspectives of high-to-upper-middle income countries and low-to-lower-middle income countries. The chapter presents the energy security of subsistence energy access as a question of human security. Chapter four examines the existing decision-making standards in electrification planning that precipitate injustices. The chapter offers a justice-based electrification planning guiding principle as an instrument of due diligence in the project life cycle. Last, chapter five presents an enhanced electrification model that integrates energy justice factors in the modeling method. Overall, the dissertation deals with the complexities and embedded limitations of the current electrification planning process and concludes by designing justice-based guiding principles.