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Publications

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  • Carbon Pricing in Wholesale Electricity Markets
    Report

    Carbon Pricing in Wholesale Electricity Markets

    An Economic and Legal Guide

    By Matt Butner, Bethany Davis Noll, Justin Gundlach, Burcin Unel, and Avi Zevin
    March 25, 2020

    This report explains how carbon-pricing rules in organized wholesale electricity markets can improve economic efficiency. It then explores the economic principles and legal requirements for RTOs, states, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider when implementing a carbon-pricing rule in organized wholesale electricity markets. And it identifies several policy-design approaches that, to varying degrees, meet those economic principles and are likely to be found legally permissible.

  • (Not So) Clean Peak Energy Standards
    Academic Article/Working Paper

    (Not So) Clean Peak Energy Standards

    By Jeffrey Shrader, Christy Lewis, Gavin McCormick, Isabelle Rabideau, and Burcin Unel
    December 10, 2019

    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.

  • Getting the Value of Distributed Energy Resources Right
    Report

    Getting the Value of Distributed Energy Resources Right

    Using a Societal Value Stack

    By Justin Gundlach and Burcin Unel, Ph.D.
    December 3, 2019

    Our report notes the growing presence of distributed energy resources, like solar panels and energy storage installations, and explains how they should be compensated for providing electricity services valued by utilities and their customers. Currently, 40 states use net energy metering programs to compensate DERs. We describe a promising alternative, “value stacking,” which better reflects DERs’ value, and provide suggestions for how to implement this approach.

  • Electricity Simulations on the Distribution Edge
    Academic Article/Working Paper

    Electricity Simulations on the Distribution Edge

    Developing a Granular Representation of End-User Electric Load Preferences using Smart Meter Data

    By Ashwini Bharatkumar, Ricardo Esparza, Kristina Mohlin, Elisheba Spiller, Karen Tapia-Ahumada, and Burcin Unel
    June 1, 2019

    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.

  • Opportunities for Valuing Climate Impacts in U.S. State Electricity Policy
    Report

    Opportunities for Valuing Climate Impacts in U.S. State Electricity Policy

    By Denise A. Grab, Iliana Paul, and Kate Fritz
    April 2, 2019

    With an absence of federal leadership on climate change, many states have worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on their own, often by incorporating a broader range of considerations into electricity policy. Our report assesses the potential to expand the valuation of climate damages in state electricity policy using Social Cost of Carbon metrics. We examine existing statutes and regulations in all 50 states to identify opportunities for valuing climate impacts around the country.