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Public Utilities II
Friday, Jan. 4, 2019
10:15 AM - 12:15 PM
Transportation and Public Utilities Group
Wesley W. Wilson,
University of Oregon
Valuing Geographic Diversity of Wind in the Rocky Mountain West
Increasing integration of wind generation in the United States provides several opportunities and challenges to policy-makers. With respect to benefits, even without subsidy wind is now the cheapest form of new generation in many areas of the country, and costs continue to decline. Costs are so competitive, that in some areas it is cost effective to retire existing coal and even natural gas fueled generation and replace it with new wind facilities. In addition to cost reduction, expansion of wind generation also reduces emissions from existing fossil-fueled generation infrastructure, improving regional health outcomes, particularly when it results in reduced fossil-fueled generation in urban areas, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Such expansion of wind also creates challenges. In the existing transmission system rising wind generation in the United States poses a challenge to system operators due to wind intermittence and a current lack of economic storage alternatives. Geographic diversification of wind generation facilities, however, can minimize the system impact of site-specific intermittence; however, the location of wind resources can exacerbate problems of congestion on a transmission-constrained grid, with often unanticipated impacts to generation, cost and emission outcomes. To optimize wind development, the potential benefits from greater expansion of wind generation, including utilization of spatial distribution of wind resources on market price outcomes and emission reductions should be considered, subject to the constraints posed by existing transmission capacity. This paper attempts to determine the impacts of wind expansion using a simulation of the Rocky Mountain Power Area in the western United States to quantify the potential benefit-cost tradeoffs from cost improvements and emissions reductions while considering potential congestion impacts to system costs and emissions outcomes.
Our paper models the impacts of varying degrees of geographic diversity of wind resources while accounting for potential transmission congestion and time-of-day price variation, using a dispatch model of the Rocky Mountain Power Area region in the Western United States to simulate generation outcomes. We analyze different generation portfolios of wind location for their impact on electricity prices, generation variability, and global and local pollutant outcomes. This is conducted over a five-year period across the system as a whole and, in each of the two sub-regions of the system. Preliminary results indicate that, in the absence of transmission constraints, greater geographic diversification of additional wind power results in a win-win situation with minimal renewable generation variance, low electricity market prices, and greater reduction of total emissions. On a transmission-constrained grid, demand and supply conditions within specific sub-regions of the grid dictate the optimality of alternative wind generation siting choices. In each hour that transmission congestion occurs, costs and benefits of wind site placement are asymmetric across the system. This paper defines the impact that the placement of wind turbines has on market and non-market outcomes.
The Importance of Broadband and other Infrastructure for Entrepreneurship
This study uses a unique panel dataset to investigate the link between regional broadband and other infrastructure and entrepreneurship. We examine how broadband infrastructure (internet connectivity), intellectual infrastructure (human capital), and transportation infrastructure (roads, bridges, and intermodal facilities) affect the establishment of new businesses in the United States, 2000-2015. We primarily focus on broadband infrastructure, which is the least explored of these factors in the entrepreneurship literature. A notable feature of the research is that we assemble a linked broadband panel dataset from the beginning of the FCC’s Form 477 data collection to the present time, integrating the various forms of data that were available at different times. Apart from our present use of the data, we expect that other researchers will find these data convenient to use for longitudinal study of county-level economic phenomena.
We find that all kinds of infrastructure help entrepreneurship, but especially broadband and intellectual infrastructure. The importance of broadband infrastructure for entrepreneurship varies among industries, but is more important in innovative industries. The positive impact on new firm formation of broadband infrastructure is large. The results suggest that there will be 1,800 to 12,800 establishment births per year (depending on the details of the calculation) when competition moves from one to two fixed broadband providers in the counties’ ZIP codes. Furthermore, when transportation and broadband infrastructure are both increasing, they provide synergistic benefits to entrepreneurship—evidence of complementarity of these important inputs to businesses. The impact of broadband on the startup rate is greatest in rural areas, demonstrating the importance of broadband to rural America. These results may help policymakers understand which regional factors facilitate entrepreneurship and highlight the importance of removing barriers to the deployment of broadband infrastructure. The lessons are particularly apropos as the nation moves toward deployment of 5G wireless infrastructure.
Long-Term Transportation Electricity Use Considering the Effect of Autonomous-Vehicles: Estimates & Policy Observations
In this paper, we model three layers of transportation disruption – first electrification, then autonomy, and finally sharing and pooling – in order to project transportation electricity demand and greenhouse gas emissions to 2050. Using an expanded kaya identity framework, we model vehicle stock, energy intensity, and vehicle miles traveled, progressively considering the effects of each of these three disruptions. We find that electricity use from light duty vehicle transport will likely be in the 570 TWh to 1140 TWh range, 13% to 26%, respectively, of total electricity demand in 2050. Depending on the pace at which the electric sector decarbonizes, this increase in electric demand could correspond to a decrease in LDV greenhouse gas emissions of up to 80%. In the near term, rapid and complete transport electrification with a carbon-free grid should remain the cornerstones of transport decarbonization policy. However, long-term policy should also aim to mitigate autonomous vehicles’ potential to increase driving mileage, urban and suburban sprawl, and traffic congestion while incentivizing potential energy efficiency improvements through both better system management and the lightweighting of an accident-free vehicle fleet.
The Benefits of Product Improvements in Cellphones: The Value of a Smart Phone
Over the last decade, the modern smartphone has changed from luxury good, into an integral part of daily life. During this time, the marketplace has undergone rapid growth and technological improvement. We apply a random coefficient model to measure the welfare effects of the introduction of the smartphone and the resulting technological progress. Using data on phone characteristics from 2010-2014, We find that the average American benefitted by $215 per year. This accounts for over $850 billion in surplus over the sample period, a better than two-for-one return on consumer expenditure.
L9 - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities
O3 - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights