Conduct, support, and disseminate high-quality applied academic research on state and local policies impacting the deployment of renewable energy in the American federal system that informs both scholarship and the policy process.
As national concern for addressing global warming grows, more and more Americans are looking for governmental action to speed a transition to low-carbon energy sources. Most of the focus has been on federal action or—in the Trump era—reversal of prior federal action. Furthermore, the lion’s share of attention has been paid to a handful of policies that either put a price on carbon (e.g., carbon tax or cap-and-trade) or require utilities to meet renewable energy or improved energy efficiency targets. Below the radar, though, are state and local government level policy choices—on tax policy, land use regulation, infrastructure investment, and use of public land—that can serve to facilitate or hinder an energy transition. Taken individually, these policies may seem innocuous, but collectively they can serve to provide preferred status to some energy sources and impact the performance of other policies. As a result, some states have opted to use these lower-profile policies to facilitate an energy transition even in states where talking about climate change is politically untenable. Meanwhile in other states, these lower-profile policies may—knowingly or unknowingly—undermine achievement of even more explicit state climate policies including renewable portfolio standards and carbon pricing.
REPI research takes a multidimensional approach to identifying the range of state and local policies that impact renewable energy development, understanding how these policies interact, and understanding the politics at play behind their adoption, implementation, and long-term durability.
Furthermore, REPI research recognizes that the policy debate over renewable energy plays out very differently in urban and rural communities, and in red, blue, and purple states.
Rather than seeing this web of policies and diverse stakeholder interests as obstacles to a rational climate policy, our research aims to identify policy designs that work within this complex system—relying not on hypothetical models, but actively engaging with policymakers to learn from real-world experiences.
In turn, REPI aims to translate that knowledge back to policymakers, the media, and the public, to inform state and local decision-making.
Novel research, much of it conducted by UM students, investigating state and local policies impacting renewable energy deployment
- State-level case studies
- Multi-state policy research
Policy analysis by UM student researchers
- Solar Taxation in Michigan: Payment in Lieu of Taxes Considerations
Eli Gold (March 2021)
Supplementary Tax Calculator
Succinct summaries of UM and REPI-affiliate research for policymakers and practitioners
- Examining Renewable Energy Transitions: A Tool to Enhance Workforce Development
Gilbert Michaud (August 2020)
- State and Local Energy Justice Programs
Sanya Carley (September 2019)
- The Taxation of Wind Energy
Stephanie Leiser (September 2019)
- Renewable Energy within State Farmland Preservation Programs
Sarah Mills (September 2019)
- Taxing Flaring and the Politics of State Methane Policy
Barry Rabe (September 2019)
- Addressing Diversity in State Level Solar Energy Policies
Tony Reames (September 2019)
A Ford School graduate-level elective for students across the University of Michigan.
Each summer, a Ford School masters student interns with the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Energy Program. Former interns and a sample of their relevant work
- Anne Kolesnikoff (2018) – Renewable Energy Legislative, Taxes on Oil and Gas Production
- Kate Bell (2019) – K-12 Energy Efficiency, Smart Meter Opt-Out Policies
- Jaclyn Kahn (2020) - State Approaches to Wind Facility Siting, Renewable Natural Gas
REPI Policy Workshop
A novel partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) engaging state legislators in REPI research
- 2019 REPI Workshop Agenda
- Future plans for REPI workshops are on hold due to COVID-19
Funding to-date for the Renewable Energy Policy Initiative has been provided by the Ford School Renewable Energy Support Fund and through the Graham Sustainability Institutes’ Emerging Opportunities Program.
Looking for More?
For more information or questions about REPI, contact Dr. Sarah Mills at 734-615-5315 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.