The Institute for Policy Integrity produces a variety of publications. Our research reports develop in-depth research on our core issues, while our policy briefs and issue briefs provide focused analysis on more timely or particular topics. Our academic articles and working papers offer original scholarly research and analysis from established experts as well as fresh new voices.
Targeted Regulation for Reducing High-Ozone Events
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are a precursor to ground-level ozone, a pernicious pollutant that is harmful to human health and ecosystems. Despite decades of regulations and a sharp decline in NOx emissions, episodic high-ozone events prevent many areas from attaining air quality standards. Theoretically, spatially or temporally differentiated emissions prices could be more cost effective at reducing such events than a uniform price. To test this prediction, with data from EPA and NOAA spanning 2001–2019, this working paper uses novel empirical strategies to estimate (1) the link between hourly emissions and high-ozone events and (2) hourly marginal abatement costs. These estimates form the basis for simulations that compare uniform and differentiated emissions pricing. Consistent with economic theory, differentiated pricing is substantially more cost effective at reducing high-ozone events, but this advantage depends on the accuracy of the estimated NOx–ozone relationship.
The Obligation to Serve in Massachusetts
Gas Service and the Energy Transition
In Massachusetts, achieving the state’s decarbonization target in a cost-effective manner will likely require the refusal of new gas service in addition to the termination of existing gas service in certain buildings and its replacement with electric service. The scope of utilities’ legal obligation to serve their customers will be central to those efforts. This brief analyzes the contours of this obligation by examining the relevant Massachusetts statutes, regulations, Public Utility Commission decisions, and case law.
Electricity Tariff Design via Lens of Energy Justice
Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) can significantly affect the net social benefit in power systems, raising concerns pertaining to distributional justice and equity. Current tariff design approaches suffer from opaque efficiency-equity trade-offs and are also agnostic of the externalities that affect both economic efficiency and equity. Therefore, this paper develops a justice-cognizant tariff design framework that improves the operational savings in the system without sacrificing distributional equity, and encompasses economic welfare, social costs of environmental and public health impacts, and socio-economic and demographic characteristics of electricity consumers. We evaluate four different tariff structures using a Multi-Objective Problem with Equilibrium Constraints. We then compare the operational savings and equity of the proposed framework using the 11-zone New York ISO and 7-bus Manhattan power networks. The results demonstrate that justice-cognizant, and spatially- and temporally-granular tariffs ensure equity and increase the operational savings at a lower energy burden to consumers.
Just Regulation: Improving Distributional Analysis in Agency Rulemaking
This Article seeks to understand the shortcomings of current agency practice and outline what agencies can do better. To do so, it examines fifteen significant proposed or final agency rules promulgated during the Biden-Harris Administration’s first eighteen months and reveals four categories of limitations. First, agencies often pursue inconsistent goals across different regulatory initiatives. Second, they do not grapple with the core issue that distributional analysis should raise: the extent to which the better distributional consequences of one alternative should trump the higher net benefits of another alternative. Third, agencies do not apply a consistent approach to defining disadvantaged groups, which makes the analysis inconsistent and unpredictable. Fourth, the distributional analysis relies on a truncated set of costs and benefits, and thus presents an incomplete picture of the consequences of regulation on disadvantaged communities.
Best Practices for Energy Substitution Analysis
In recent years, numerous federal agencies have made a controversial claim: that projects locking in fossil fuels over the long term will decrease aggregate greenhouse gas emissions, or that their effects on total emissions will be limited. In many of those cases, however, agencies have reached this counter-intuitive conclusion using a flawed consideration of energy substitution. This report identifies some of the recurring problems with agency analysis of energy substitution and offers best practices to apply moving forward.