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Scholarship Highlights

Distributed Energy Resource Valuation Methodologies - A Comparative Analysis & Federal Parameters on the Definition of Avoided Cost under PURPA

UH/CE3 logos
These two pieces together represent the culmination of a project which started with an invitation-only event in November, 2016.  One, an analysis of the different 

approaches states are using to determine the value of distributed energy resources, was completed by Heather Payne and Jonas Monast. The analysis focuses on nine states that have taken recent action via legislation and/or public utility commission proceedings -- Arizona, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, and South Carolina.  The other piece, discussing federal parameters on the definition of avoided cost under PURPA and legal methods currently used and acceptable under PURPA application for states to encourage or discourage distributed generation, was completed by Victor Flatt with help from two UNC law students, Seth Yeazal (JD 2019) and Miles Wobbleton (JD 2018).

Managing Dynamic Change in the Midwestern Power Sector: PowerShift Midwestern Regional Workshop

Market-shifted technological innovation and clean energy policies are driving a fundamental transformation of the U.S. power sector. Yet the grid is largely governed by a decades-old legal framework. New regulatory and market design strategies are necessary to align the power sector with environmental goals while ensuring affordable and reliable service. That challenge is the focus of PowerShift, a network of energy law professors and energy practitioners, hosted by the Harvard Environmental and Energy Law Program, Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, and the Center for Climate, Energy, Environment, and Economics (CE3) at the University of North Carolina Law School. Since 2015, the group has convened in conjunction with meetings of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners to discuss grid changes, to pose related legal questions, and to foster a research agenda for power policy reform. The first regional meeting of PowerShift took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in December 2017. Participants discussed four critical grid issues in the Midwest: evolving stakeholder processes, power sector fleet transfer, the impact of electric cars on the grid, and responses to changing consumer demand. The range of potential research inspired by their discussion—including whether state regulatory processes help or hinder big shifts underway on the grid, how state climate goals affect regional generation patterns, how stakeholder processes and market trends interact, whether utilities should attempt to spark demand for electric vehicles, and whether customer demands or public policies are the driving force for change—points to the sea change in the U.S. power sector.

Municipal Utilities and Cooperatives: Transitioning to a Lower Carbon Future

CE3 co-hosted the Municipal Utilities and Cooperatives: Transitioning to a Lower Carbon Future conference with the Florida State University College of Law, Environmental, Energy & Land Use Program on March 24, 2017.  Municipally-owned utilities (munis) and electric cooperatives (co-ops) provide electricity to millions of customers throughout the United States. Yet the important role of munis and co-ops is sometimes overlooked in the field of energy law. Recent market changes, such as rapidly declining costs of solar photovoltaic panels and wind energy, have led to dramatic changes in the U.S. energy mix. As consumers respond to these changes by demanding more diverse sources of energy, including lower-carbon options like renewable and nuclear energy, munis and co-ops will be at the forefront of this transition.  Panelists discussed the differences between small and large co-ops/munis serving rural, low-density versus concentrated consumer populations; transitioning from utility-scale coal-fired generation to other options, including stranded cost issues; expanding purchasing options—consumer “green buying” options and muni and co-op participation in PPAs for renewable energy; and examples of expanding self-supply, with muni and co-op-built and operated renewable generation.  Three case studies, providing insights from the conference to other municipal utilities and cooperatives as well as lessons learned, were developed from the conference.

Regulating Greenhouse Gases with NAAQS

Legal challenges and the recent U.S. presidential election have left the future uncertain for the Clean Power Plan, which regulates greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act. Should the Clean Power Plan be weakened or not survive challenges, then stakeholders may litigate in an attempt to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use other authorities under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  A new working paper, co-authored by Prof. Jonas Monast,  examine the challenges and opportunities of using the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) program to regulate greenhouse gases if the EPA must take this approach.

Illuminating the Energy Policy Agenda: Electricity Sector Issues Facing the Next Administration

The next president will take office during a period of rapid market and regulatory change for the U.S. electricity sector. Due to statutory deadlines, pending lawsuits, and agency rulemakings--if not by choice--the next president will tackle energy policy. To prepare policymakers for what promises to be a dynamic period in electricity law and policy, a new paper from the University of North Carolina Center for Climate, Energy, Environment, and Economics; the Harvard Environmental Policy Initiative; and Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions provides an overview of six key areas of federal policy, and for each area, identifies the decision points--in time or circumstances--that will force the next administration to make choices that shape the future of the grid. For each decision point, the paper explores the next president's options and the authorities that he or she could deploy.

Law, Policy and the Future of Solar Financing

In conjunction with the workshop hosted by CE3, the UNC School of Law Center for Banking and Finance, and the UNC School of Government Environmental Finance Center, Heather Payne, Victor Flatt, Lissa Broome and Jeff Hughes released a joint white paper, Law, Policy, and the Future of Solar Financing.

2016 Festival of Legal Learning's Environmental Law Symposium papers

Eighteen Carolina Law students wrote Symposium papers focused on a wide variety of topics - including those related to energy development, agriculture, climate, environmental justice, and the red wolf. 

Clean Air Act

Article Data Sets and Appendix

The data set for Game Over can be found here.  The Appendix for "A Long Slog: What a Ten Year Hydroelectric Relicensing Process Demonstrates about Public Participation and Administrative Regulation Theories" can be found here.

2015 Festival of Legal Learning's Environmental Law Symposium papers

Eleven Carolina Law students wrote Symposium papers focused on solar and other alternative energy sources, CCS, GMOs, statutes of repose, environmental justice, and more!

2014 Festival of Legal Learning's Environmental Law Symposium papers

Twenty Carolina Law students have written papers focused on a variety of topics for the 2014 Environmental Law Symposium. The individual papers may be found on the Environmental Law Project website.

Environmental Markets Produces Exceptional Scholarship

CLEAR is highlighting two exceptional pieces of work from the Spring 2013 Environmental Markets class. The first is a paper (PDF) by Jack Lyman focused on how CARB's offset invalidation provisions promote additionality in the California Carbon Market. The second, a paper (PDF) by Asher Spiller, details carbon leakage problems and the need for binding interstate climate compacts.

CE3 publishes Briefing Paper on States' Tax Authority

CE3 is publishing a briefing paper concerning Keystone XL and states' taxing authority. Authored by Tyler L. Burgess, the paper (PDF) details states' authority to tax interstate and foreign commerce to discourage pipeline siting within their borders.

CE3 Completes Climate Change Risk Disclosure Review

CE3 has completed a climate change risk disclosure review and is posting the completed briefing paper (PDF). R. Kyle Evans, Research Assistant and J.D. Candidate, Class of 2015, and Heather Payne, CE3 Fellow, have analyzed current practices and possible changes related to climate change disclosure, including the types of risks reported, federal and state approaches to disclosure, voluntary disclosure mechanisms, and emerging trends.

Thesis Concerning Analysis of State Disaster Recovery Plans

CE3 is publishing the Accepted Master's Thesis of UNC Planning student and CE3 Fellow Dylan Sandler on a proper framework for examining the adequacy of state disaster planning. Mr. Sandler, working with CE3 and the Center of Excellence for Homeland Security and Disaster Solutions, has exemained the literature and theories about what is required for effective disaster recovery plans, and has proposed a comprehensive framework for analyzing whether state Disaster Planning documents are adequate in terms of public participation, effectiveness, and comprehensiveness. This is the first posting of such a document. Read the thesis (PDF).

The Impact of Law on Private Sector Climate Change Adaptation

August, 2012 - Read the policy white paper (PDF) summarizing the workshop and conclusions from the workshop.


CE3 commissions report (PDF) on the role of non-profits in long term disaster recovery.

CE3 Research Fellow Analyzes the Potential for Parametric Insurance Products to Serve as a Model for a Proposed U.S. Catastrophe Risk Consortium and as a Catalyst for Disaster Mitigation and Climate Adaptation

CE3 Research Fellows Prepare Case Study Analyzing Best Methods of Insuring Against Avoided Deforestation Offset reversal

  • Ken Allinson, Matthew Dunand, P. J. Puryear, and Jeremy Tarr (White Paper (PDF))
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