Renewable Energy Policy Initiative (REPI)

October 2018 - Current


The Renewable Energy Policy Initiative (REPI) conducts, supports, and disseminates 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.

Funding partners

Funding to-date for the Renewable Energy Policy Initiative has largely been provided by the Ford School Renewable Energy Support Fund.


Project overview:

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—during the Trump Administration—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.

CLOSUP’s Renewable Energy Policy Initiative (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 identifies 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 translates 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


Policy analysis by UM student researchers


Succinct summaries of UM and REPI-affiliate research for policymakers and practitioners


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


A novel partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) engaging state legislators in REPI research

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