Electricity diversification, decentralization, and decarbonization: the role of U.S. state energy policy Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
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  • Carley, Sanya
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Public Policy
Abstract
  • In response to mounting concerns about climate change and an over-dependence on fossil fuels, U.S. state governments have assumed leadership roles in energy policy. State leaders across the country have constructed policies that target electricity sector operations, and aim to increase the percentage of renewable electricity generation, increase the use of distributed generation, and decrease carbon footprints. The policy literature, however, lacks compelling empirical evidence that state initiatives toward these ends are effective. This research seeks to contribute empirical insights that can help fill this void in the literature, and advance policy knowledge about the efficacy of these instruments. This three-essay dissertation focuses on the assessment of state energy policy instruments aimed at the diversification, decentralization, and decarbonization of the U.S. electricity sector. The first essay considers the effects of state efforts to diversify electricity portfolios via increases in renewable energy. This essay asks: are state-level renewable portfolio standards (RPS) effective at increasing renewable energy deployment, as well as the share of renewable energy out of the total generation mix? Empirical results demonstrate that RPS policies so far are effectively encouraging total renewable energy deployment, but not the percentage of renewable energy generation. The second essay considers state policy efforts to decentralize the U.S. electricity sector via instruments that remove barriers to distributed generation (DG) deployment. The primary question this essay addresses is whether the removal of legal barriers acts as a primary motivating factor for DG deployment. Empirical results reveal that net metering policies are positively associated with DG deployment; interconnection standards significantly increase the likelihood that end-users will adopt DG capacity; and utility DG adoption is related to standard market forces. The third essay asks: what are the potential effects of state energy policy portfolios on carbon emissions within the U.S. electricity sector? The results from an electricity modeling scenario analysis reveal that state policy portfolios have modest to minimal carbon mitigation effects in the long run if surrounding states do not adopt similar portfolios as well. The effectiveness of state-level policy portfolios can increase significantly if surrounding states adopt similar portfolios, or with the introduction of a national carbon price.
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Advisor
  • Andrews, Richard N. L.
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