This article, published by Energy Research & Social Science, unpacks the institutional bottlenecks and path dependency holding back the energy transition in Gujarat and Rajasthan. As heavily-indebted electricity distribution companies in Rajasthan seek to emulate thriving counterparts in Gujarat and turn to technology adoption, efficiency enhancement, and loss reduction measures, this study offers an in-depth stakeholder analysis, reflecting on implications for energy futures. Based on 56 expert interviews, it pries open the political economy of the distribution system within the energy transition in Western India, spanning concerns of consumers and providing insights into the roles played by several institutions, from regulatory commissions to renewable energy agencies. The article adds to existing scholarship by explicating how institutional conditions promote and hold back transitions to sustainable energy futures, bookmarking stakeholders’ expectations with regard to current developments on tariffs, renewable energy growth targets and compliance, the advent of competition, and public participation. It contributes a comparative understanding of the current issues, concerns, and ideologies that characterise this transforming sector at the state level, interweaving electricity distribution trajectories and regional political economic developments to explain the dynamics of change and nature of resistance.