Factors affecting household satisfaction with electricity supply in rural India

  • Nature Energy 1, Article number: 16170 (2016)
  • doi:10.1038/nenergy.2016.170
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Electricity is an important component of socio-economic development, but most studies of household electricity access focus exclusively on the presence or absence of a connection. Here we reach beyond connectivity by examining the relationship between various dimensions of the quality of electricity supply and a household’s subjective satisfaction with their electricity or lighting situation. Studying the results from a survey of 8,568 households in six large, energy-poor states from northern, central and eastern India, we find that household satisfaction responds strongly to the average hours of electricity available on a typical day. The positive effect of increasing the number of hours per day by one standard deviation on satisfaction is almost as large as that of electrifying a non-electrified household. These findings underscore the importance of moving from counting electricity connections to enhancing the quality of electricity supply.

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We thank the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) for their participation in this research project and MORSEL India for excellent data collection. This project was funded by the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation and ClimateWorks Foundation. We are grateful to S. P. Harish, P. Bayer, A. Zhang, D. Palit, U. Bhatt, M. Bhatia, and seminar audiences at Columbia University and CEEW for comments on previous drafts.

Author information


  1. University of Pittsburgh, 4600 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA

    • Michaël Aklin
  2. University of California, 4289 Bunche Hall, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA

    • Chao-yo Cheng
  3. Columbia University, 712 International Affairs Building, 420 West 118th Street, New York, New York 10027, USA

    • Johannes Urpelainen
  4. Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), 1st Floor, Thapar House, 124 Janpath, New Delhi 110001, India

    • Karthik Ganesan
    •  & Abhishek Jain


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All authors contributed to study design and data collection. M.A., C.-y.C. and J.U. conducted the data analysis and wrote the paper. All authors reviewed the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Johannes Urpelainen.

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    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Note; Supplementary Tables 1–35; Supplementary Figures 1–3.