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Energy problem representation: The historical and contemporary framing of Australian electricity policy

Chester, Lynne, Elliot, Amanda
Energy policy 2019 v.128 pp. 102-113
case studies, electricity, energy, energy policy, policy analysis
This article contributes to the discussion of frameworks for conducting energy policy analysis. The article considers the influence of epistemic frames on energy policy decisions, and particularly the representation of energy problems, using a social constructionist approach and a case study of Australian electricity policy, the cornerstone of the nation's energy policy. Rather than contributing to the debate about the future of a country-specific electricity sector or a classification of differing conceptualisations of energy, the article focuses on 'the explanation of energy’ by investigating the framing of Australian electricity policy from early 20th century Federation to the contemporary era. A six-question analytical grid is deployed to examine how debates and policies about electricity provisioning—and the ‘energy problem’—have been constructed and reconstructed. The article concludes that the framing and reframing of the problem of ‘energy’ over time represents a key mechanism through which the state has represented, constituted and configured its role in the nation and reflects broader transformations in ‘governing’.