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Global progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 7.1: 'By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services' continues to be measured by mere access to energy carriers, using binary indicators that inadequately reflect the multi-dimensional nature of the goal. In this work, we describe and apply an alternative framework to track critical dimensions of energy provisioning and household capabilities that aligns more closely with the original SDG 7.1 target wording. We provide new empirical evidence from ten countries describing the extent to which the current indicators underestimate energy poverty and neglect decent access. We find that households officially counted as having access to modern energy sources, in many instances, still benefit only from minimal energy services, receive unreliable energy supply, and struggle with being able to afford energy services they need to enjoy a decent standard of living. We also find that poorer households are systematically over-represented in this population and are more likely to suffer multi-dimensional constraints when counted served by the current indicators. Notwithstanding challenges in data collection and standardisation, we argue that we must improve on binary indicators for measuring progress towards SDG 7.1, to pave the way for agenda setting and policy development that recognises and addresses broad inequities in household capabilities to use modern energy towards achieving a decent living standard.