The Future of the Electric Utility
The rapid change of both technology and policy in the electricity sector is transforming the way in which electricity is produced, distributed, and consumed. At the same time, historic models for operating and financing electric utilities may be unsustainable in the face of these dramatic changes. Researchers at DEEP are examining many aspects of these problems, ranging from the impact of large-scale renewable production on energy prices and investment, to the implications of the rapid growth of distributed energy resources and electric vehicle adoption for the reliability and operations of distribution networks. This work is supported through projects funded by the Sloan Foundation, California Air Resources Board, and the California Department of Transportation.
Electric Vehicles and Energy Demand
As policymakers worldwide move forcefully to promote accelerated adoption of EVs, DEEP has research projects that will inform several important dimensions of policy. Some questions include: How responsive are consumers to EV purchase subsidies? How is adoption among low-income households affected by the presence of subsidies? Do low-income and minority-ethnicity households face barriers to purchasing EVs (e.g. discrimination or the need to drive farther to purchase EVs)? Does charging a large number of EVs affect reliability of the electricity grid? What are the pollution benefits of EVs and the causal effect of EV policies on greenhouse gas and local pollutant emissions? DEEP has active research investigating each of these questions, with projects funded by the Sloan Foundation, California Air Resources Board, and the California Department of Transportation.
Mexican Energy Liberalization
On December 20th 2013 Mexico's Government embarked on an ambitious set of changes in order to allow for greater participation of private firms in the energy sector. This effort is known as Mexico's Energy Reform and its chief objectives are to increase Mexico's energy output and to diversify the country's energy matrix. In order to achieve this, several regulatory changes have been made in several industries, including the electricity and natural gas industries. These markets have faced many challenges in the transformation from a heavily regulated and centrally operated markets to markets with freer entry and greater participation by private firms. Supported by funding from CONACYT and SENER, researchers at DEEP have been collaborating with partners at Tec de Monterey and UC Berkeley on projects studying the interaction of market reforms with the efficiency of the grid and the expansion of renewable energy.
The Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC) project’s primary goal is to provide technical assistance to West Coast jurisdictions committed to the Climate and Energy Action Plan (signed by leaders of British Columbia, California, Oregon, and Washington in late 2013). The central focus is to inform climate change efforts with a strong transportation energy component, such as nascent low-carbon fuels or broader carbon pricing policies in Oregon and Washington, and longer-standing efforts in British Columbia and California. Building on UC Davis expertise and research networks within and outside the university, the PCC project provides policy-ready research and analysis, and consultation. Its research team draws on scientific literature as well as lessons learned from climate and energy policies implemented in California to present the best available information relevant to low-carbon fuels and to carbon emissions and pricing programs.