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Energy Law

The supply of a reliable, low-cost and clean energy supply for the United States is a key determinant of current and future prosperity. Perhaps as a result, electricity suppliers are among the most heavily regulated of large firms. This regulation is composed of a complex patchwork of overlapping state and federal regulation that is constantly evolving to meet emerging challenges to the energy system. In this course, students will acquire a basic understanding of the law of rate-based regulation of utilities. We will then examine the history of natural gas pipeline regulation in the United States, concluding with the introduction of market competition into US natural gas markets and the advent of shale gas. Next, we will cover the basics of the electricity system, including consumer demand, grid operations, and power plant technologies and economics. We will then revisit cost of service rate regulation as it has been applied in the electricity context. Next we will examine reform of both rate-regulated and wholesale market-based structures, focusing on various attempts to introduce market competition into aspects of the industry and to strengthen incentives for utility investment in energy efficiency. Finally, students will examine various approaches to subsidization of utility scale renewable energy and the growth of distributed energy. Throughout, the course will focus on the sometimes cooperative, sometimes competing, but ever evolving federal and state roles in regulating the supply of electric power. Students will write two 1000 word response papers to questions related to readings and outside speakers in addition to taking a final exam. Elements used in grading: Class participation (20%), written assignments (40%), and final exam (40%).

Instructors for this course (Past and Present)

Michael Wara