Panel: Re-Distributing Power through Electricity System Transformation
(Natural Resource, Energy, and Environmental Policy)

Friday, November 9, 2018: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Truman - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  John-Michael Cross, Environmental and Energy Study Institute
Discussants:  Sanya Carley, Indiana University and Kathleen Araujo, Boise State University Energy Policy Institute/CAES

Energy Democracy: Goals and Policy Instruments Linking Political Power & Renewable Energy Futures
Matthew J. Burke, McGill University and Jennie C. Stephens, Northeastern University

Power to, from, or for the People: Distributed Energy Resources in Public Power and Rural Cooperatives
Stephanie S. Lenhart1, Matthew Grimley2, Lindsey Forsberg2, Gabriel Chan2 and Elizabeth J. Wilson3, (1)Boise State University, (2)University of Minnesota, (3)Dartmouth College

Social Versus Private Benefits of Energy Efficiency Under Time-of-Use Pricing
Jing Liang, University of Maryland and Yueming (Lucy) Qiu, University of Maryland, College Park

The configuration of electricity systems is closely linked to negative environmental impacts and pre-existing distributions of political and economic power. The potential to reconfigure technologies, institutions, and uses of electricity presents an opportunity to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and potentially reduce the worst impacts of climate change, while possibly enabling more resilient and reliable energy systems and equitable and democratic forms of access. Distributed energy resources (DERs) such as community shared solar, residential and commercial solar and storage, load management programs, and other technologies have the potential to increase system resilience, improve efficiencies, reduce environmental impacts, and empower communities. Yet, these outcomes are far from certain and they require transformative changes in electricity system technologies and the policies and institutions that support and govern them. The processes of integrating DERs will require actors to negotiate tensions around the scale and pace of system change and around shifting agency, the balance of power, and the distribution of costs and benefits to different actors. To provide insight into how decisions about technologies, policies, business practices, and consumption are reshaping electricity systems and affecting communities, this panel brings together four papers examining deployment of DERs with associated policies. In line with the conference theme of Evidence for Action, each paper identifies timely recommendations for policymakers and practitioners. The papers also highlight the importance of current choices for the future realignment of impacts across communities and individuals with special emphasis on the ability of local actors to influence decisions in how electricity is produced, transmitted, and used.


The first paper examines energy democracy policy instruments and how political power is linked to renewable energy futures. The second paper explores how municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives frame their role in engaging citizens and reordering institutional priorities. This paper also assesses how federal, state, and local policies for DER implementation could further support energy democracy. The third paper examines the distributional impacts of community shared solar programs, business models being developed to attract low and moderate income participation, and the policy implications for more equitable community shared solar program design. The final paper explores the complexity of consumer responses to policy and rate designs by quantifying the social and private benefits of energy efficiency under time-of-use (TOU) pricing. This paper demonstrates that unlike increasing block pricing, TOU pricing is unlikely to over-incentivize energy-efficiency investment, and therefore other policy instruments are still needed to encourage energy efficiency adoption for TOU consumers.