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Johannes Urpelainen
Columbia University
ju2178@columbia.edu
Johannes Urpelainen studied for his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in the social sciences from the University of Tampere, Finland. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan. He is currently Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. For the 2012-13 academic year, he is also a Visiting Research Scholar at Princeton University. His primary research interests are environmental and energy policy, sustainable development, and international institutions.
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Articles By Johannes Urpelainen
Rural electrification in India: Focus on service quality
Posted On: 18 Jan 2017

Topics:   Infrastructure
Tags:   electricity

India has set an ambitious goal of achieving high-quality electricity supply for all households by 2019, and impressive progress has been made in increasing the number of household electricity connections. However, this column finds that the quality of electricity service to rural households is dismal and this is considered to be a major problem by rural households. There is a need for rationalising rural electricity tariffs to ensure cost recovery in exchange of improved service quality.
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Access to energy in rural India: A survey of six states
Posted On: 18 Jan 2016

Topics:   Infrastructure

While access to energy is crucial for socioeconomic development, statistically representative surveys on the issue are missing in India. Based on a survey on energy access in six energy-poor states in north India, this column finds that although domestic electricity connections in rural areas have increased rapidly, quality of supply remains poor. In terms of clean cooking fuels, people strongly prefer LPG but poor availability and high upfront costs of connections limit access.
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Can solar micro-grids deliver basic electricity access in Indian villages?
Posted On: 17 Apr 2015


About one-third of India´s population remains without access to basic electricity services. This column discusses preliminary lessons from an experiment in rural Uttar Pradesh that seeks to set up solar micro-grids in unelectrified habitations. It finds that while the cost of solar power is a potential obstacle to its adoption, the technology does generate substantial benefits in the form of improved lighting and reduced kerosene expenditures.
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Solar power for street vendors? Lessons from an experiment in Bihar
Posted On: 06 Feb 2015


Rapid urbanisation in developing countries is aggravating the issue of insufficient access to energy for basic needs such as lighting. This column discusses lessons from an experiment in Bihar wherein street vendors were provided solar-powered lights, the batteries of which were charged at centralised stations installed in urban marketplaces. Based on problems encountered in terms of the mode and cost of operation, it suggests that the provision of electric grid connections, with stand-alone solar lights as backup, may be a better approach.
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India´s power sector reforms: Who reaped the benefits?
Posted On: 02 May 2014

Topics:   Infrastructure
Tags:   electricity

The cornerstone of India´s power sector reforms is the 2003 National Electricity Act that limited state intervention in the power sector. This column analyses the effects of the Act on Indian manufacturing firms. It finds that political clout of firms played a key role in the distribution of gains from the reforms in terms of improved electricity supply.
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Is there public support for higher electricity prices in India?
Posted On: 23 Aug 2013

Topics:   Infrastructure

Even though India´s power sector does not generate enough electricity to meet the rapidly growing demand, policymakers hesitate to increase tariffs due to popular opposition. This column discusses results from a survey experiment in rural Uttar Pradesh that shows that providing people with information about the relationship between low electricity tariffs and inadequate generation has a significantly positive effect on public support for higher prices. However, privatisation is unpopular, as people have a strong preference for state control of the power sector.
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The Clean Development Mechanism in India – is it working?
Posted On: 01 Oct 2012

Topics:   Environment

The Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol allows developing countries to profit from climate friendly projects, and India is second only to China in using the mechanism to help reduce its carbon emissions. But, unlike China, India does not have a national policy. This column argues that as a result the profits are not going to the states that need them most.
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