Blog Post

New Issue of Resources—The Utility of the Future

May 25, 2016 | Sarah Aldy

Welcome to the Spring/Summer issue of Resources, where RFF experts explore the evolving US power sector as it responds to transformational market trends, smart grid technologies, and the looming climate challenge.

Our cover story is by RFF Visiting Fellow Joseph Kruger, who outlines the ways these forces—particularly the increased demand for distributed energy resources and inevitable carbon regulation through the Clean Power Plan or other such legislation—are upending traditional market and regulatory structures governing the power sector. He identifies five guiding principles for states, energy companies, and utilities as they think through reforms and planning necessary for what is sometimes called the “utility of the future.”

In a related Q&A, RFF Research Director and Senior Fellow Karen Palmer and Center Fellow Anthony Paul talk about their experience helping states develop compliance plans under the Clean Power Plan. One of the most important decisions states face, Palmer and Paul say, is whether to adopt a target based on the rate at which carbon is emitted, or the total amount, an issue that Kruger highlights as well.

The United States cannot tackle climate change alone, of course, and so Alan Krupnick, Daniel Shawhan, and Kristin Hayes present an action agenda for integrating North American electricity policy and planning, with climate at the heart of many recommendations. And in his last feature as president of RFF, Phil Sharp looks more broadly at efforts to transform US energy systems in order to protect ourselves from climate change, highlighting the benefits of our interdependence with other nations of the world.

In other future-facing articles in this issue, RFF scholars ask whether China’s economic slowdown will weaken environmental goals, how a recent Endangered Species Act listing decision will affect voluntary conservation measures to protect the sage grouse, and what researchers in the fields of Earth sciences and environmental economics stand to gain from drones—a game-changing technology that offers unprecedented opportunities to observe the natural world. For an example, be sure to view a video of stunning Iguazu Falls that RFF Fellow Marc Hafstead captured via his DJI Phantom 3 drone by visiting the online version of the article.

Resources 192 cover

Resources 192 • Spring/Summer 2016

From the President
A Fond Farewell
Phil Sharp

Who Pays to Plug Inactive Oil and Gas Wells?
Jacqueline Ho and Alan J. Krupnick

Goings On
Highlights from Recent Events at RFF

Environmental Policy Issues in the “New Normal” Era of China
Mun Ho

Helping States Prepare for the Clean Power Plan: An Interview with Karen Palmer and Anthony Paul

Inside RFF
RFF Welcomes New Fellow, Announces Postdoctoral Researcher Program, and Remembers Henry Diamond


Leadership on Climate Change: A Conversation with Québec Premier Philippe Couillard

The Sage Grouse Listing Decision: How Changing Expectations Could Affect Private Conservation
Rebecca Epanchin-Niell, Kimberly Rollins, and Michael H. Taylor

The Value of Milder Weather
Maureen L. Cropper

Responding to the Clean Power Plan and the Utility of the Future: Recommendations for States
Joseph Kruger

US Energy Policy in an Interdependent World
Phil Sharp

Harmonizing North American Electricity Policy and Planning: An Action Agenda
Alan J. Krupnick, Daniel Shawhan, and Kristin Hayes

Data from Drones: A New Way to See the Natural World
Molly K. Macauley and Timothy Brennan