This article explores Indonesia’s efforts to reduce energy poverty in its transition to low-carbon energy, with a particular focus on how distributive, procedural, and recognition justice has been included in policies aimed at increasing private investment in renewable energy electrification. Based on the analysis derived from qualitative interviews, field observation, and the review of government documents and policies, the author argues that despite Indonesia’s energy justice agenda of providing access to affordable electricity for all, the policies in place do not effectively promote energy justice.
In terms of distributive justice, the author argues that spatial injustice in electricity access is still prevalent, especially in the eastern part of Indonesia, where many communities lack reliable energy access. The author suggests that many renewable rural electrification projects may exacerbate this spatial inequality by supplying households and cities that have access to a grid network, while neglecting communities that live closest to the electricity generation sites. This is partly due to the government’s encouragement of private investment that favors large-scale projects, thereby further exacerbating geographic inequalities. The author argues that procedural injustice is also prevalent in the energy decision-making processes due to a lack of transparency in the current bidding and procurement processes and limited space for the public participation and engagement in decisions. In terms of recognition, the author asserts that marginalized communities living in areas, where electricity is not considered economically favorable, are neglected and denied electricity access.
The author also makes suggestions for better ways to incorporate energy justice principles into policies and programs. First, energy policies should include more inclusive approaches, such as encouraging public participation and increasing transparency. Second, energy policies need to incentivize diversity beyond large-scale and on-grid projects to effectively target those most affected by energy poverty. Third, contextually grounded approaches best suited to the needs of local communities should be prioritized. Finally, public finance should also be considered in addressing the needs of those most vulnerable to energy poverty.