Department of Environmental Sciences

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Seminar Abstracts
Environmental Sciences Seminar Abstract            

Jonathan Milley
Energy Strategy Resources

What is most often missing from the current, often acrimonious, debate over environmental regulations pertaining to the power sector is a basic understanding of the financial mechanics of the power sector itself. At the same time, those very environmental regulations are viewed from one perspective as a superfluous luxury with no tangible benefit yet with very tangible costs for voters and citizens. This results in very poorly grounded policy discourse in which the central premise is one of absolute winners and losers in the energy and environment space.

This presentation will offer a summary overview of the life-cycle costs and operational characteristics of power plants by technology type, how electrical power markets function based on marginal supply and demand, and what drives new capital investment for energy projects. Electrical energy is a commodity, but unlike all other commodities this one cannot be stored as energy for future sales and this simple fact makes an understanding of the dynamic market aspects of the delivery of this commodity crucial for sound policy making. Next will be a summary overview of current actual and proposed air and water emission regulations for the power sector and their economic ramifications by technology type of energy production. Finally, the presentation will wrap up with a highlight of the externalities not priced into the cost of electricity, but that are in fact borne elsewhere in the economy or, absent capital investment in new energy projects, will not be available to help drive economic growth and development.

Last updated: 04/25/2012