Economics and Business Division Seminars

2014-2015 Academic Year

Fall 2014

September 11, 2014 (3:00 - 4:15 Green Center 215)
Speaker: Corbet Granger, Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics
Topic:  The Incidence of Energy Policy Reform: Fossil Fuel Subsidies in a Small, Open Economy
Abstract: Fossil fuel subsidies amount to over $550bn per year worldwide. In developing countries, these policies are politically popular as they are used to lower or stabilize gasoline or heating prices and to promote growth of energy-intensive industries. Most studies of the distributional and welfare incidence of energy policies focus exclusively on consumer expenditures, and the most prominent analytical general equilibrium models employ assumptions that are unsuitable for most developing economies. This leaves a gap in our understanding where such economies are concerned. In this paper we develop an analytical model of a small open economy with an existing subsidy on fossil fuel imports. We examine the impacts of policy reform on factor prices and income distribution. Our approach takes account of the need for spending on a subsidy to be financed through taxation. Thus the household incidence of subsidy reform depends on three changes: in direct benefits, in tax burden, and in factor earnings. We then characterize the distribution of the benefits and costs of reform across households and sectors.

September 19, 2014 (3:15 - 4:30, Engineering Hall 211)
Speaker: Adrienne Ohler, Assistant Professor at Illinois State University, Department of Economics
Topic: Rate-of-Return, Regulation, Electricity Market Deregulation, and Renewable Energy Technology
Abstract:  Rate-of-return (ROR) regulation provides an incentive for the firm to overinvest in capital assets, and specifically capital assets that are relatively cheaper. Typically, the capital costs of renewable energy (RE) technology are more expensive than nonrenewable energy (NR) per MW. Theoretically, market restructuring that removes ROR regulation for generating assets can increase the investment in RE relative to non-RE capacity. However, the process of restructuring from a monopoly to a competitive market can also create greater competition among energy sources, driving down the use ofrenewable energy. Using a dynamic panel model, I examine the impact of restructuring on generation capacity. The results suggest that the relative use of RE technologies increases with restructuring, but that restructured states began with a greater level of RE capacity before the restructuring process. We find evidence that restructured and traditionally regulated states face different market parameters, emphasizing that a national energy policy, such as a renewable portfolio standard, will have varying impactsdepending on the market structure of the state.

October 3, 2014 (3:15 - 4:30 EH 211)
Speaker: Shanjun Li, Assistant Professor at Cornell University, Dyson School of Applied Economics
Topic: To be Announced

October 17, 2014 ((3:15-4:30 EH 211)
Speaker: Aaron Smith, Assistant Professor at UC Davis, Agriculture and Resource Economics
Topic: To be Announced

November 14, 2014 (3:15-4:30, EH 211)
Speaker: Dale Manning, Assistant Professor at Colorado State University, Agriculture and Resource Economics
Topic: To be Announced

2013-2014 Academic Year

Spring 2014

April 25, 2014  (3:00-4:30)  Marquez 122
Topic: The Housing Market Impacts of Shale Gas Development
Speaker: Christopher D. Timmins is a Professor in the Department of Economics at Duke University, with a secondary appointment in Duke’s Nicolas School of the Environment. He holds a BSFS degree from Georgetown University and a PhD in Economics from Stanford University. Professor Timmins specializes in natural resources and environmental economics, but he also has interests in industrial organization, development, public and regional economics.
Abstract: Using data from Pennsylvania and New York and an array of empirical techniques to control for confounding factors, we recover hedonic estimates of property value impacts from shale gas development that vary with geographic scale, water source, well productivity, and visibility. Results indicate large negative impacts on nearby groundwater-dependent homes, while piped-water-dependent homes exhibit smaller positive impacts, suggesting benefits from lease payments. At a broader geographic scale, we find that new wellbores increase property values, but these effects diminish over time. Undrilled permits cause property values to decrease. Results have implications for the debate over regulation of shale gas development.

April 23, 2014 ( 3:30-4:45) Engineering Hall 211
Topic: Kicking it up a Notch: Home Energy Performance Certificates & Energy Efficiency
Speaker: Dr. Mirko Moro earned his PhD at the University College Dublin and is visiting the Colorado School of Mines for the month of April. His work focuses on the interaction between environment, energy and well-being.
Abstract:From 2007, sellers of residential buildings in the UK were required to publish an energy performance certificate (EPC). The EPC reports energy efficiency as a colour-coded letter grade (from A-G), and also as a score on a linear 0-100 scale (SAP score). Crucially, at certain thresholds, a one point improvement in SAP score moves the home into a higher letter grade. This shift is more salient than a one point shift at other points in the distribution because it changes the colour of the rating on the visual scale. This paper tests whether the public and easily comparable nature of EPCs could incentivize sellers and existing home owners to invest in the energy efficiency of their homes. Using data from the English Housing Survey, over 20,000 homes both before (2002-2004) and after (2008-2010) the introduction of EPCs we test whether there is an effect of EPCs on home energy efficiency by testing whether the distribution of homes changes on either side of each letter grade threshold after the EPCs were required. Results find a statistically smaller number of households just below a grade threshold, though only for thresholds in the middle of the scale. Very high and very low quality houses seem to have been unaffected by the new information.

April 11, 2014  (3:30-4:45) Engineering Hall 211
Topic: Unconventional Oil and Gas Production and its Impact on the Energy Business
Speaker: William Fleckenstein, Professor of Petroleum Engineering-Colorado School Mines
Abstract:The conventional wisdom is that the “easy oil” to be discovered worldwide has been discovered and that world oil production will peak, or may have peaked and is beginning a period of unstoppable decline.However, in the US and Canada, unconventional sources of hydrocarbons are challenging the conventional wisdom that “Peak Oil” is upon us. Currently approximately 70% of the rigs drilling in the US are pursuing unconventional targets. This has reversed the decline in US production, and last year added nearly 1 million BOPD to the US oil and gas production. This presentation will discuss unconventional oil and gas production techniques, and its impact, on both the US and worldwide energy business.

April 4, 2014 ( 3:30-4:45) Engineering Hall 211
Topic:Photovoltaics and the Benefits and Challenges of Solar Energy
Speaker: P.Craig Taylor is a Professor of Physics at the Colorado School of Mines and is the Associate Director of the Colorado Energy Research Institute.

March 28, 2014  (3:30-4:45) Engineering Hall 211
Topic: Public Incentives for Conservation Easements on Private Land
Speaker: Dr. Jorcdan Suter is an Assistant Professor at Colorado State University  in the department of Agriculture and Resource Economics. His research focuses on land use policy, water resource economics and the analysis of pollution control regulations.
Abstract: Habitat destruction and fragmentation resulting from land development has motivated considerable public expenditures on land conservation initiatives. In addition to direct expenditures related to the procurement of conservation land, public entities have also put in place generous incentives aimed at encouraging private landowners to voluntarily donate conservation easements on their property. Many landowners have taken advantage of these incentives, as privately held land under conservation easement has increased nearly five-fold between over the last decade. This research seeks to inform the design and implementation of public incentives for conservation easements by reviewing the broad range of incentives currently in place and analyzing how these incentives have influenced the nature and distribution of conservation easements throughout the United States

March 21, 2014 ( 3:30-4:45) Engineering Hall 211
Topic: China's Export Restrictions on Rare Earth Elements: Motivations, Effects, and Persistence
Speaker: Frank Pothen is a visiting scholar to the Colorado School of Mines from the Centre for European Economic Research in Germany

February 28, 2014 (3:30 - 4:45)  Engineering Hall 211
Topic: Subsidies and Investments in the Solar Power Markets
Speaker: Dr. Burr is an assistant professor at CU Boulder in their department of Economics. Her research focuses on Solar PV policy analysis, renewable energy technologies, corruption and R&D. Dr. Burr has her PhD in Economics from the University of Arizona
Abstract: Over the last 10 years, the solar photovoltaic (PV) market has experienced tremendous growth due in part to government incentive programs. This paper estimates a dynamic model to understand the impact of these programs on residential solar installations and evaluate the impact of alternative incentive policies. The model separately evaluates the effect of system costs, capacity-based subsidies, tax credits and production revenues using a 51=4 year data set collected by the California Solar Initiative program, which subsidized solar installations in California. The results indicate that capacity-based subsidies are equally effective as production-based subsidies, but that the latter are more efficient. With a $100 social cost of carbon, the total subsidies in California would be welfare neutral. If California were only as sunny as Frankfurt, Germany and to maintain the current amount of solar electricity production, this value would have to be $730 to be welfare neutral. I find that without subsidies, 40% to 60% of the installations would not occur.


Fall 2013

November 22nd ( 3:30 - 4:30)
Topic: Asymmetric Information in Residential Rental Markets: Implications for the Energy Efficiency Gap
Speaker: Erica Myers is a PhD candidate in the Ag. and Resource Economics department at UC Berkeley. Prior to attending UC Berkeley, Erica was a research assistant at Resources for the Future where she worked on various energy-related projects and cap-and-trade policy design projects. Erica has a B.S. in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan and a M.S. in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics from the University of Rhode Island
Abstract: This paper explores whether there are energy cost information asymmetries between landlords and tenants.  If tenants are uninformed about energy costs, landlords cannot capitalize energy efficiency investments into higher rents, leading to under-investment. I exploit variation in energy costs in the form of relative heating fuel price changes in the northeastern United States where some units heat with oil and some units heat with natural gas.  I find that changes in energy costs are capitalized into rents when landlords pay for energy, suggesting landlords are informed about their costs.  In contrast, when tenants pay for energy, I cannot reject zero capitalization, which is consistent with tenants lacking information.  Turnover, owner occupancy rates, and energy efficiency investments are also different between the two payment regimes in ways consistent with asymmetric information.

November 8th  (3:30 - 4:30)
Topic: The Evolution of Energy Systems
Speaker: Derek Lemoine is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on answering energy and climate policy questions by integrating scientific and economic uncertainty into computationally feasible models. Derek holds a Ph.D. from Berkeley’s interdisciplinary Energy & Resources Group, as well as an M.A. in economics from Berkeley, an M.S. in energy and resources from Berkeley, and a B.A. in philosophy and integrative environmental solutions from the University of the South.
Abstract: Modern energy systems have been dominated by a sequence of
resources: first biomass, then coal, then oil, and, increasingly, natural gas.The primary environmental policy challenge of the twenty-first century is to induce a transition back towards renewables. I develop an endogenous growth model featuring exploration for new fossil resources and directed technical change among technologies for using energy resources. Renewable technologies exhibit lock-in due to increasing returns in the level of technology, whereas innovation in a fossil resource's combustion technologies occurs in tandem with exploration for that resource. Policies that improve energy efficiency in order to reduce pollution can easily backfire, actually increasing fossil resource extraction in current and future periods. In contrast, policies that lock up marginal fossil resources almost always reduce current and future extraction and hasten the transition to renewable resources.

November 1st  (12:30-1:30)
Topic:  Unintended Consequences of Transportation Carbon Policies
Speaker: Jonathan Hughes is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics and CU Boulder. His research interests are in energy, environmental economics and empirical industrial organization.  His current research focuses on gasoline markets, the land use aspects of biofuel production, and climate change policy in the transportation sector. Dr. Hughes received his PhD from the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis.
Abstract: Renewable fuel standards, low carbon fuel standards, and ethanol subsidies are popular policies to incentivize ethanol production and reduce emissions from transportation. Compared to carbon trading, these policies lead to large shifts in agricultural activity and unexpected social costs. We simulate the 2022 Federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and find that energy crop production increases by 39 million acres. Land- use costs from erosion and habitat loss are between $277 and $693 million. A low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) and ethanol subsidies have similar effects while costs under an equivalent cap and trade (CAT) system are essentially zero. In addition, the alternatives to CAT magnify errors in assigning emissions rates to fuels and can over or under-incentivize innovation. These results highlight the potential negative effects of the RFS, LCFS and subsidies, effects that would be less severe under a CAT policy.

October 25th (3:30-4:45)
The Unintended Consequences of Uncoordinated Regulation: Evidence from the Transportation Sector
Speaker: Dr. Roth is an assistant professor at UC Irvine in their department of economics. His research focuses on environmental, energy, and urban economic topics. Dr. Roth has a PhD in economics from Cornell
Abstract:In this paper I examine how two policies that are a priori equivalent, fuel economy standards and feebates, interact differently with complementary policies that also attempt to improve fuel economy. To examine these interactions I build a general equilibrium model of the automobile market that allows manufacturers to trade off horsepower, weight, and fuel economy of vehicles along a production possibility frontier (PPF). I also estimate household demand for vehicles and miles for a simulation model that includes the used car and scrappage markets. This model allows me to simulate the interaction of a research and development policy that increases the PPF of domestic firms, or a tax credit that increases demand for efficient vehicles, with either a CAFE standard or feebate. I find that vehicle emissions increase under all these interactions but the effects are muted under the feebate because it allows fuel economy to improve by 0.60% to 1.88%, while CAFE, by targeting an average fuel economy, will always offset these uncoordinated complementary policies.

October 11th  (12:30-1:30)
Topic: The water implications of generating electricity: Water impacts across the United States based on different electricity pathways.
Speaker: Mr. Macknick is an energy and environmental analyst at NREL and a member of the Energy Forecasting and Modeling Group in the Strategic Energy Analysis Center. His particular areas of research interest include the interface of energy and water in policy planning, environmental impacts of renewable energy technologies, and renewable energy deployment in developing countries. Mr. Macknick holds a B.A. in mathematics and environmental studies from Hamline University and an MS in transboundary natural resource policy from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

September 27th and October 18th  (12:30-1:30)
Topic: Introduction to MATLAB
Speaker: Leah Kaffine has extensive experience in quantitative analytics having worked in the Colorado Energy Industry for over 6 years. Presently Leah is the Senior Quantitative Analyst for SourceGas working with the Financial Planning and Analysis Group. Prior to SourceGas, Leah worked with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory ( NREL) in the Energy and Model Forecasting Group. Leah’s obsession with MATLAB began in a numerical analysis course for her degree in Applied Mathematics at UC Santa Barbara. MATLAB has proven an invaluable tool  throughout her career within the energy industry. Previous employers also include Bentek Energy, Raytheon and Xcel Energy.
Abstract: The ability to analyze large datasets and not be constrained by the limitations of spreadsheet software (Excel) will set you apart to employers. Come see practical real world examples of how MATLAB is utilized by industry. Workshop assumes no programming experience or prior MATLAB use. Topics that will be covered in this seminar include MATLAB introduction, Industrial Applications of MATLAB and Working with time series data (importing data, generating data, regression analysis).

September 20th  (12:30-1:30)
Topic: What to get out of the Mineral & Energy Economics Graduate School Experience and how to apply it.
Speaker: After starting as an intern at Ponderosa this past February, Chris accepted a position at Ponderosa Advisors that has since transitioned from simple correlation analysis to leadership of the firm’s applied statistical work. Currently, he works on many fronts, including forecasting natural gas storage, NGL production, and associated gas contribution to the NGL stream. However, his main focus is on the agricultural side of the company, where he is a project manager developing statistics-based optimization tools for use in property and asset acquisition.
Abstract:How to make the most of the years you spend at Mines
How to choose a specialization
How to explain the program in an interview – as it turns out, no one really knows what Mineral and Energy Economics is
How to distinguish yourself from an MBA
The problems you will almost certainly have in your first month on the job
The skills the market values
The things you really need to say in an interview

September 6th  (12:30 - 1:30 )
Topic: Technological Change, Vehicle Characteristics, and the Opportunity Costs of Fuel Economy Standards
Speaker: Dr. Linn’s research centers on the effect of environmental regulation and market incentives on technology, with particular focus on the electricity sector and markets for new vehicles. His work on the electricity sector has compared the effectiveness of cap and trade and alternative policy instruments in promoting new technology, including renewable electricity technologies. His work in vehicle markets investigates the effect of CAFÉ standards on new vehicle characteristics and the effect of gasoline prices on new vehicle fuel economy. Dr. Linn joined Resources for the Future in March 2010 and previously was a n assistant professor in the economics department at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a research scientist at MIT. At MIT, he served as executive director of the MIT Study of the Future of Solar Energy. Dr. Linn has a B.A. in Astronomy and Physics from Yale and a Ph.D in economics from M.I.T.
Abstract:Many countries are tightening passenger vehicle standards for fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions rates. Because manufacturers jointly choose fuel economy, performance, and other vehicle characteristics, the standards could affect other vehicle characteristics besides fuel economy. We use a simple model of the vehicle market to show that the welfare effects of the standards depend largely on how they affect the rate and direction of technology adoption—whether manufacturers use new technology to increase fuel economy rather than to improve other vehicle characteristics. Recent standards in the United States and Europe have affected both the rate and direction of technology adoption. The reduction in horsepower and torque represents an opportunity cost of the standards that we estimate to be roughly the same magnitude as the expected fuel savings.


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Last Updated: 08/25/2014 10:28:09