What Are We Waiting For?
Scientists and economists have long recognized that significant uncertainties and irreversibility characterize climate change. And yet, the social cost of carbon (SCC), the preeminent policy tool to address climate change applied by the U.S. government, does not include the option value (OV) that arises due to these characteristics. We demonstrate a simple methodology for approximating the OV underlying the SCC using the Bachelier formula
This article, published in the Harvard Environmental Law Review, argues that the electricity sector is at a critical juncture, and that a shift to a paradigm with a long-term vision that includes better, economically efficient rate designs is necessary if we want to realize the clean energy future that the modern grid promises us.
Growth in electricity storage has the potential to increase emissions from power generation. Concerns about this outcome are currently prompting many policies to address the issue. We study a particularly popular policy proposal called the “Clean Peak Standard” that incentivizes storage to discharge during periods of high electricity demand. The stated goal of the policy is to shift storage discharge to offset production from generators with high pollution emissions. We show that the policy is largely ineffective at achieving this emissions reduction goal. The policy reinforces existing incentives faced by storage operators, so it does not have a strong effect on discharging behavior. It is also unable to capture high-frequency changes in marginal operating emissions rates. Alternative policies, such as a carbon tax, are more effective at reducing the emissions increase caused by storage. Policymakers considering Clean Peak-style policies should instead consider these alternative policies.
Developing a Granular Representation of End-User Electric Load Preferences using Smart Meter Data
The electric distribution grid is transitioning toward a model in which customers can themselves provide a variety of services to the grid by investing in distributed energy resources (DERs) such as distributed solar generation, programmable appliances, and energy storage. However, customers’ incentives to make these investments depend on how they are being charged for electric service. Despite the topic’s importance for the electric distribution system of the future, the body of literature on the impact of electric rate design on the proliferation of DERs is still limited. Our research improves upon common assumptions of fixed electric demand by incorporating microeconomic theory into an existing engineering simulation model.
This article, published in the Minnesota Law Review, identifies a new trend in aggressive regulatory rollbacks and argues that it is likely to become an enduring feature of American politics. Rather than stick to the typical deregulatory playbook, President Trump has made aggressive use of other instruments that had not previously played a significant role. Through these strategies, the Trump administration was able to reach a far greater proportion of regulations finalized during Obama’s presidency than would have been possible under prior practices. In the current climate, aggressive rollback strategies will lead to an important reconceptualization of the Executive Branch, in which future one-term presidents are unlikely to see a significant portion of their regulatory output on important matters survive and the incentives that presidents face in fashioning their regulatory policies will be significantly different. The changing incentives will affect a broad set of decisions, from transition planning for an incoming administration to the timing of regulatory actions relative to a president’s reelection campaign.
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