Author Archives: Severin Borenstein

About Severin Borenstein

Severin Borenstein is E.T. Grether Professor of Business Administration and Public Policy at the Haas School of Business. He has published extensively on the oil and gasoline industries, electricity markets and pricing greenhouse gases. His current research projects include the economics of renewable energy, economic policies for reducing greenhouse gases, and alternative models of retail electricity pricing. In 2012-13, he served on the Emissions Market Assessment Committee that advised the California Air Resources Board on the operation of California’s Cap and Trade market for greenhouse gases. Currently, he chairs the California Energy Commission's Petroleum Market Advisory Committee and is a member of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District's Advisory Council.

Creative Pie Slicing To Address Climate Policy Opposition

There are two fundamental, and fundamentally different, barriers to pricing greenhouse gases. The one economists tend to focus on is the economy-wide cost of reducing emissions: substituting to lower-carbon and (for now) higher cost production of energy and other products. … Continue reading

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One Stone, No Birds

Capping greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at individual facilities is a bad idea whose time, unfortunately, may have come in California. Unlike a statewide cap or tax on emitting GHGs, facility-specific caps have essentially zero support among environmental economists, as I … Continue reading

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Missing Money

If you work in electricity markets and someone mentions “missing money,” it doesn’t make you think of a lost wallet or a sticky-fingered bank teller. Instead it evokes regulatory policies that lower the revenues electric generation companies can make in … Continue reading

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What Do We Want From California Climate Policy?

When you listen closely to debates over California climate change policy, it becomes clear that the disagreements are along two dimensions: what is the best approach to meeting the state’s goals and what exactly are those goals. I think the … Continue reading

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Fight Both Local and Global Pollution, But Separately

Since discussions of California’s cap and trade program for greenhouse gases (GHGs) began more than a decade ago, many environmental justice (EJ) leaders have voiced concerns about the fairness of cap and trade to disadvantaged communities.  Like most environmental economists, … Continue reading

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Electricity Rate Design for the Real World

For decades economists have bemoaned the fact that retail electricity prices don’t adjust to reflect the volatile cost of providing energy.  Because electricity is not storable, the wholesale cost can change by a factor of five or more within a … Continue reading

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Trash those incandescent bulbs today!

When it comes to lighting, I’m no early adopter.  For the last 20 years, I’ve annoyed my energy efficiency friends by arguing that those curlicue compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) were overhyped. The light quality is still inferior; they still warm … Continue reading

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Fixing a major flaw in cap-and-trade

While many Californians are spending August burning fossil fuels to travel to vacation destinations, the state legislature is negotiating with Gov. Brown over whether and how to extend the California’s cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases … Continue reading

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Who’s Stranded Now?

Utility costs are like taxes.  Everyone knows they have to be paid, but most people have a reason that their own share should be smaller.  And, just as with taxes, there are limitless ways to divide up the revenue burden. … Continue reading

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Is Electricity Pricing Different from “Real Markets”? Should It Be?

“No company in a real market would ever price that way.”  If you’ve discussed electricity pricing much, you’ve surely heard this said by a person opposed to one retail tariff or another.  In almost every instance, however, the claim is … Continue reading

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