Emmanuelle Mathieu, University of Lausanne

Séminaire académique La Chaire Recherche

,   -
A 711, Dauphine

Renewable energy policies and the re-politicization of electricity governance in the UK, Mexico and Morocco

Emmanuelle Mathieu

Fostering renewable energies (RE) requires other policy and regulatory instruments than those mobilized for the market creation objective that was at the centre of the previous generation of electricity policy reforms. Yet, policy change often comes with governance change. The implementation of new policy instruments creates a series of new tasks and responsibilities that are distributed among pre-existing and sometimes new stakeholders. Liberalization and privatization reforms in the electricity sector saw the rise of private actors and independent regulatory agencies and the retreat of ministries and governments, leading to a de-politicization of electricity governance. What is impact of the most recent wave of policy reform in the electricity sector on power distribution among policy stakeholders? Do they reinforce the trend towards de-politicization, or do they set electricity governance on a new trajectory? The literature on renewable energy policies emphasizes the polycentric and fragmented character of electricity governance, suggesting a continuity in the power dispersion trend characterizing electricity governance reforms since the 1980s. By contrast, this paper argues that renewable energy policies come with a re-centring of regulatory power, shifting regulatory power closest to central governments via the delegation of new regulatory tasks to actors closely controlled by the executive. The paper analyses and compares the evolution of electricity governance with a particular focus on the governance of auctions in the UK, Mexico and Morocco. It combines longitudinal and comparative analysis based on indices to analyse governance arrangements. It finds a re-politicization trend, cutting across the three different cases, although taking different forms as they are mediated by the different institutional and actors’ interests’ environments. The paper contributes to opening a discussion on the re-politicization of electricity governance, a phenomenon that has hardly been underlined so far, and provides conceptual and methodological tools to pursue future research in this direction.

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