Karen Palmer

Senior Fellow; Director, Electric Power Program

Karen Palmer is a senior fellow at RFF and an expert on the economics of environmental, climate and public utility regulation of the electric power sector. Her work seeks to improve the design of environmental and technology regulations in the sector and the development of new institutions to help guide the ongoing transition of the electricity sector. To these ends, she explores climate policy design, analyzes efficient ways to promote use of renewable and other clean sources of electricity, and investigates new market designs, new approaches to electricity pricing and regulatory reforms to pave the way for long-term decarbonization of electricity supply and electrification of the energy economy.

In the 1990s, Palmer spent six months as a visiting economist in the Office of Economic Policy at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission where she worked on wholesale market design in the nascent ISO markets. She has served on three National Academies study panels, including one on the future of electricity from renewables and one on the future of electric power in the US. She is immediate past President of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE) and serves on the Environmental Advisory Council to the New York ISO and on the Future Power Market Forum Advisory Group. She is the recipient of the Public Utility Research Center’s 2015 Distinguished Service Award and was elected as an AERE Fellow in 2018. Her published papers have appeared in many academic journals including the American Economic Review, the RAND Journal of Economics, The Journal of Political Economy and The Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.


  • PhD in economics, Boston College, 1990
  • BA in economics, Brandeis University, 1981

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