Ensuring a cleaner, more efficient, reliable and equitable electric grid—the role of research in informing policymaking

Research can help guide a cleaner, better electric grid.

Teams supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are developing new research to help guide policymakers as they consider ways to ensure the electric sector is cleaner, more efficient, reliable and equitable. EDF and New York University's Institute for Policy Integrity at the NYU School of Law—two of the Sloan Foundation's grantees—are working with the Foundation to highlight some of this exciting work in a series of five moderated discussions among experts. The conversations, the descriptions of which are below, are open to the public and will be captured in a series of blog posts.

Talk 5: Is the Price Right? Valuing and Compensating Distributed Energy Resources

May 27, 2022 11 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. ET

This webinar will bring together leading research and policy experts to discuss ways to value and compensate distributed energy resources for their services, how these different approaches affect outcomes of interest, and where the policy discussions are headed.

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Panelists:

  • Moderator: Dr. David Brown, University of Alberta
  • Dr. Michael Caramanis, Boston University
  • Dr. Beia Spiller, Resources for the Future
  • Dr. Burçin Ünel, New York University School of Law
  • Paul Phillips, California Public Utilities Commission

Learn more about the speakers

Moderator

  • Dr. David Brown is an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta’s Department of Economics. He holds a Canada Research Chair in Energy Economics and Policy and is the President of the Canadian Association for Energy Economics. His research lies at the intersection of energy economics, industrial organization, and regulatory policy. His recent work considers questions in the electricity sector ranging from market design, market power, and pricing mechanisms for demand-side management and emerging technology adoption.

Speaker highlights

  • Dr. Michael Caramanis is Boston University Professor of Mechanical and Systems Engineering. He researches complex stochastic production systems and decision support in real-time electric power markets. He currently focuses on the Cyber-Physical-Energy-System/Smart Grid that (i) is open to developers and users to render it capable of supporting real-time market at the wholesale and retail levels, and (ii) enables load and distributed resource management to mitigate T&D and Ancillary Services congestion and realize synergies among market-ready sustainable energy technologies including wind generation, distributed storage, roof-top PV and Hybrid Electric Vehicles.
  • Dr. Beia Spiller is a Fellow and the Director for RFF's Transportation Program. Beia is an energy economist, with experience working on electricity and transportation issues and a particular focus on electricity pricing for achieving greater adoption of distributed energy resources. She has participated in many electric utility proceedings in NY and CA with the goal of ushering in a cleaner, more efficient and equitable energy system. She also has many years of experience working in the transportation sector, exploring some of the most pressing issues around electric car, truck and bus adoption. Her publications range across the energy space, with a focus on identifying environmental, community and health impacts of renewable energy resources and energy policies.
  • Dr. Burçin Ünel is the Energy Policy Director at the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law. She is an expert in utility regulation and environmental and energy policy. She leads Policy Integrity’s stakeholder involvement both at the federal and state level in front of regulatory agencies such as public utility commissions and FERC. She also oversees Policy Integrity’s involvement in multiple carbon pricing initiatives around the country. Dr. Ünel has authored over 80 papers, policy briefs, public comments, and reports to improve the quality of governmental decisionmaking in numerous energy and environmental policy areas.
  • Paul Phillips has significant advocacy and advisory experience in California energy and communications policy. He oversees the Retail Rates group in the CPUC Energy Division, evaluating statewide pricing strategies for an evolving grid, including the design and implementation of time of use, dynamic, and real time pricing to promote electrification and affordability. Earlier in his career, Paul focused on utility cost modeling and served as an energy advisor on renewable procurement, net energy metering, natural gas markets, and gas and electric rates.


Talk 4: Distributed Energy Resources and Distribution Network Impacts

March 4, 2022 2-3:20 p.m. ET

What are the challenges and opportunities created by Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)? How can policies help or hinder outcomes? Are there ways to improve both adoption and functionality of DERs? Find out in this conversation between leading research and policy experts.

Watch event recording

Read more about it here

Panelists:

  • Moderator: Elizabeth Stein, EDF
  • Dr. Jim Bushnell, University of California, Davis
  • Dr. Anamika Dubey, Washington State University
  • Dr. Alan Jenn, University of California, Davis
  • Michelle Rosier, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

Learn more about the speakers

Moderator

  • Elizabeth Stein is the Lead Counsel for Energy Transition at the Environmental Defense Fund. She engages in state proceedings to advocate for aligning energy policies with state climate policies, with a particular focus on reducing reliance on oil and gas in the transportation and building sectors.

Speaker highlights

  • Dr. Jim Bushnell is a Professor of Economics at the University of California, Davis, and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is currently researching ways to quantify existing and pending distribution system impacts of high penetration levels of distributed energy resources and loads. Since 2002, he has served on the Market Surveillance Committee (MSC) of the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).
  • Dr. Anamika Dubey is an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Washington State University. She is currently conducting a multidisciplinary research project that examines the impact of demand response programs on distribution systems. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE), Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Power System Engineering Research Center (PSERC), and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL).

    View Dr. Dubey's slides

  • Dr. Alan Jenn is an Assistant Professional Researcher at the Plug-in Hybrid and Electric Vehicle (PH&EV) group of the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) at the University of California, Davis as well as an affiliate at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He investigates how future electric vehicle demand will impact the development of electricity distribution infrastructure and has collaborated with the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency on analyzing electric vehicle policies.

    View Dr. Jenn's slides

  • Michelle Rosier is the Economic Analysis Supervisor for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. She previously served as the Distributed Energy Resource Specialist focusing on interconnection standards (process, agreements and technical requirements); as well as, grid modernization, integrated distribution planning, hosting capacity analysis, tariff and rate design, dispute resolution and stakeholder engagement.

    View Michelle Rosier's slides



Talk 3: Energy Market Design: New Research and Policy Approaches

Feb. 3, 2022 1-2 p.m. ET

Energy market design is key to efficiently decarbonizing the power system. This webinar focused on ongoing policy discussion on the topic and the latest research on how different market designs could affect clean energy outcomes. Read more about it here.

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Panelists:

  • Moderator: Sarah Ladin, Institute for Policy Integrity
  • Dr. Catherine Hausman, University of Michigan
  • Dr. Chiara Lo Prete, Pennsylvania State University
  • Valerie Teeter, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Learn more about the speakers

Moderator

  • Sarah Ladin is an Attorney at the Institute for Policy Integrity focusing on energy policy, particularly regulation of interstate gas infrastructure. Sarah previously worked as a fellow at the Environmental Defense Fund and clerked for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel.

Speaker highlights

  • Dr. Catherine Hausman is an Associate Professor of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research. She is currently working on a multidisciplinary research project that examines the impact of storage additions on transmission system frequency regulation.

    View Dr. Hausman's slides

  • Dr. Chiara Lo Prete is an Associate Professor of Energy Economics at the Pennsylvania State University, where her research integrates economics, optimization, and statistics to examine market structures that provide incentives for efficient operation and investment decisions in the electric power sector. She is currently studying the impact of variable wind generation on transmission systems.

    View Dr. Lo Prete's slides

  • Valerie Teeter is the Deputy Director of the Office of Energy Market Regulation at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. She most recently served as Senior Manager for Federal Regulatory Affairs at Exelon Corporation, where she formulated policy positions on issues including transmission planning and electric infrastructure resilience.

    View Valerie Teeter’s slides



Talk 2: Public Acceptance and Governance in Energy Policy

This discussion focused on conflicts and consensus building around energy policy decisions and infrastructure projects, including solar and wind projects, pipelines, and transmission lines. Read more about it here.

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Panelists:

  • Moderator: Elizabeth Wilson, Dartmouth College
  • Tanya Heikkila, University of Colorado, Denver
  • Katherine Konschnik, Duke University
  • David Konisky, Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Amanda Ormond, Western Grid

Learn more about the speakers

Moderator

  • Dr. Elizabeth J. Wilson is a professor of Environmental Studies and the inaugural Director of the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society at Dartmouth College. She studies how energy systems are changing in the face of new technologies and new societal pressures. Her work focuses on the implementation of energy and environmental policies and laws in practice.

Speaker highlights

  • Amanda Ormond has worked in energy and public policy for over thirty years in Arizona and the West. For the past two decades she has managed the Ormond Group LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in education, advocacy, and lobbying for clean energy. She currently serves as a Director of Western Grid Group, a westwide nongovernmental organization working to build a clean electric grid. Prior to starting her consulting firm, she served as Director of the Arizona Energy Office for seven years where she was responsible for developing state policy and promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy and alternative fueled vehicles.
  • Dr. David Konisky is a professor at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, Bloomington. His research focuses on U.S. environmental and energy policy, with particular emphasis on regulation, federalism and state politics, public opinion, and environmental justice.

    View Dr. Konisky’s slides

  • Dr. Tanya Heikkila is a professor and co-director of the University of Colorado, Denver’s Workshop on Policy Process Research. Her research and teaching focus on policy processes and environmental governance. She is particularly interested in how conflict and collaboration arise in policy processes, and what types of institutions support collaboration, learning and conflict resolution. Some of her recent research has explored these issues in the context of interstate watersheds, ecosystem restoration programs, unconventional oil and gas development, and the siting of energy production and distribution infrastructure.

    View Dr. Heikkila's slides

  • Kate Konschnik is a Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke Law School. Her work focuses on options for public electric utility regulation and electricity market reforms given emerging technologies and de-carbonization goals. She is currently working on a multidisciplinary research collaboration studying how the rules of regional transmission organizations and independent systems operators can help or hinder change.


Talk 1: Energy Justice and the Just Transition in the Power Sector – New Research and Policy Approaches

This discussion focused on new research on energy justice and the just transition within the electricity sector and how this work can help inform policy. Read more about it here.

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Panelists:

  • Moderator: Lauren Navarro, Senior Manager, Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, EDF
  • Raya Salter, New York State Climate Action Council
  • Dr. Charles Sims, Director of the Energy and Environment Program at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy
  • Dr. Roman Sidortsov, Associate Professor of Energy Policy at Michigan Technological University

Learn more about the speakers

Moderator

Lauren Navarro

  • Lauren Navarro: Lauren is a lawyer and Senior Manager at Environmental Defense Fund, where she works with the California's state legislature and agencies to enact policies that reduce pollution, enhance our communities and increase economic opportunities for people and businesses. Her efforts, based on the intersection of people, the environment and energy policy, bring together diverse stakeholders to find thoughtful resolutions.

Speaker highlights

Raya Salter

  • Raya Salter: Raya is an attorney, educator and clean energy law and policy expert with a focus on energy and climate justice. She is a member of the New York State Climate Action Council, which is developing the state’s plan to reach the nation’s leading climate action goals. She is also Senior Advisor, Justice40 Initiative, to WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

Dr. Charles Sims

View Dr. Sims’ slides

  • Dr. Charles Sims: Dr. Charles Sims is the Director of the Energy and Environment Program at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Tennessee - Knoxville. He has expertise in environmental and natural resource economics, and behavioral and experimental economics. His Sloan-funded grant explores the environmental justice implications of distributed solar adoption and utilization.

Dr. Roman Sidortsov

View Dr. Sidortsov’s slides

  • Dr. Roman Sidortsov: Dr. Roman Sidortsov is an Associate Professor of Energy Policy at Michigan Technological University. He primarily works on the transition to sustainable energy systems, with a special focus on energy security and justice, energy geopolitics, risk governance in the energy sector and Arctic energy development. His Sloan-funded grant explores energy justice implications of repurposing underground mines for energy storage.

This webinar is part of an ongoing series highlighting research funded by the Sloan Foundation on electricity transmission and distribution. Stay tuned for upcoming events!