ENV 816a (Online) / 2020-2021
Electric Utilities: an Industry in Transition
Teaching Mode: Online
Fall 2020: Time and location TBA
The U.S. electric utility industry is a $400 billion business with capital expenditures on the order of $100 billion per year to replace aging infrastructure, implement new technologies, and meet new regulatory requirements. A reliable electricity infrastructure is essential for the U.S. economy and the health and safety of its citizens. The electric industry also has a significant impact on the environment. In the United States, electric power generation is responsible for about 40 percent of human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas. Electric utilities in the United States are at a crossroads. Technological innovations, improving economics, and regulatory incentives provide a transformational opportunity to implement demand-side resources and distributed energy technologies that will both lower emissions and improve service to customers. Such significant changes could, however, disrupt existing utility business models and therefore may not be fully supported by incumbent utilities. This course focuses on the issues, challenges, risks, and trade-offs associated with moving the U.S. utility industry toward a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. We explore how utilities are regulated and how economic factors and regulatory policies influence outcomes and opportunities to align customer, environmental, and utility shareholder interests to craft win-win-win solutions.