Enforced commensuration and the bureaucratic invention of household energy insecurity

Liam Grealy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Power doesn't come for free, but who should pay the cost? On the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in northwest South Australia, Aṉangu households have not historically been billed for domestic energy consumption. The state government has recently introduced a prepayment regime, ostensibly to curb supply costs. Yet extending the norms of customer payment for domestic energy requires significant administrative labour, with limited potential to recoup costs through billing. This article asks: why is enforced commensuration preferable to the status quo? It describes the invention of household energy insecurity via policy reform, including the establishment of a ‘compensatory bureaucratic infrastructure’ of customer policies, contracts, tariffs, and concessions designed to mitigate the harms produced by the introduction of prepayment. With the status quo deemed untenable and the transition to mainstreaming customer payment apparently inevitable, the article examines how geography and race operate as organising principles for the limits of difference among citizens under late liberal government in remote Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Geographer
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022

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