The Department of Economics and Business faculty at Colorado School of Mines are regional, national and international leaders in applied research in business and technology, minerals and energy, and operations research. Our faculty and graduate students are involved in a wide variety of research projects in these fields, and are committed to sharing these results with academic and professional audiences.

Recent Publications





  • Graham A. Davis and Robert D. Cairns, “The Odd Notion of ‘Reversible Investment'”, Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), 2016, pp. 172 – 180.
  • Christoph Böhringer, Jared C. Carbone and Thomas F. Rutherford, “Embodied Carbon Tariffs”, Scandinavian Journal of Economics
  • Jared C. Carbone and Kenneth J. McKenzie, “Going Dutch? The Impact of Oil Price Shocks on the Canadian Economy”, Canadian Public Policy, vol. 42 (2), 2016, pp. 168 – 180.
  • Victor Peredo-Alvarez, Whitney Trainor-Guitton, Ian Lange and Allen Bellas,  “Mandate a Man to Fish?: Technological Advance in Cooling Systems at U.S. Thermal Electric Plants”, Water Resources Research, vol. 52 (2), 2016, pp. 1418 – 1426.
  • Christoph Böhringer, Jared C. Carbone and Thomas F. Rutherford, “The Strategic Value of Carbon Tariffs”, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, vol. 8 (1), 2016, pp. 28 – 51


  • Graham A. Davis and Robert D. Cairns, “Mineral Depletion and the Rules of Resource Dynamics”, The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 36, SI 1, 2015.
  • Steffen Rebennack and Josef Kallrath, ,”Continuous Piecewise Linear Delta-Approximations for Univariate Functions: Computing Minimal Breakpoint Systems”, Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications, vol.167 (2), 2015, pp. 617 – 643.
  • Sandra D. Eksioglu, Steffen Rebennack, and Panos M. Pardalos (Eds.), “Handbook of Bioenergy: Bioenergy Supply Chain – Models and Applications”, Energy Systems, Springer, 2015, ISBN: 978-3-319-20092-7.
  • Didem Cinar, Panos M. Pardalos and Steffen Rebennack, “Evaluating Supply Chain Design Models for the Integration of Biomass Co-firing in Existing Coal Plants Under Uncertainty”, Chapter 8 in Handbook of Bioenergy, Sandra D. Eksioglu, Steffen Rebennack, and Panos M. Pardalos (Eds.), Springer, 2015, pp. 191 – 217.
  • Steffen Rebennack and Josef Kallrath, “Continuous Piecewise Linear Delta-Approximations for Bivariate and Multivariate Functions”, Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications, vol.167 (1), 2015, pp. 102 – 117.
  • Salman Mohagheghi and Steffen Rebennack, “Optimal Resilient Power Grid Operation During the Course of a Progressing Wildfire”, International Journal of Electrical Power and Energy Systems, vol. 73, 2015, pp. 843 – 852.
  • Gregory Steeger and Steffen Rebennack, “Strategic Bidding for Multiple Price-Maker Hydroelectric Producers”, IIE Transactions, vol. 47, issue 9, 2015, pp. 1013 – 1031.
  • Jeff Bryan, Ian Lange and Alex MacDonald, “Estimating the Price of ROCs”, The Electricity Journal, vol. 28(1), 2015, pp. 49 – 57.
  • Brett W. Jordan, Roderick G. Eggert, Brent W. Dixon and Brett W. Carlsen, “Thorium: Crustal Abundance, Joint Production, and Economic Availability”, Resources Policy, 2015, pp. 81 – 93.
  • Harrison Fell, Beat Hintermann and Herman Vollebergh, “Carbon Content of Electricity Futures in Phase II of the EU ETS”, The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 36(4), 2015.
  • Stephen M. Frank and Steffen Rebennack, “Optimal Design of Mixed AC-DC Distribution Systems for Commercial Buildings: A Nonconvex Generalized Benders Decomposition Approach”, European Journal of Operational Research, vol. 242(3), 2015, pp. 710 – 729.
  • Williams III Roberton, Hal Gordon, Dallas Burtraw, Jared C. Carbone and Richard D. Morgenstern, “The Initial Incidence of a Carbon Tax Across Income Groups”, National Tax Journal, vol. 68 (1), 2015, pp. 195 – 214.


  • Williams III Roberton, Hal Gordon, Dallas Burtraw, Jared C. Carbone and Richard D. Morgenstern, “The Initial Incidence of a Carbon Tax Across U.S. States”, National Tax Journal, vol. 67 (4), 2014, pp. 807-830.
  • Josef Kallrath and Steffen Rebennack, “Computing Area-Tight Piecewise Linear Overestimators, Underestimators and Tubes for Univariate Functions”, Chapter 14 in Optimization in Science and Engineering, S. Butenko, C.A. Floudas, and T.M. Rassias (Eds.), Springer, 2014, pp. 273 – 292.
  • Gregory Steeger, Luiz Augusto Barroso and Steffen Rebennack, “Optimal Bidding Strategies for Hydro-Electric Producers: A Literature Survey”, IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, 29(4), 2014, pp. 1758 – 1766.
  • John T. Cuddington and Grant Nülle, “Variable Long-Term Trends in Mineral Prices: The Ongoing Tug-of-War between Exploration, Depletion, and Technological Change”, Journal of International Money and Finance, 42, 2014, pp. 224 – 252.
  • Michael Samis and Graham A. Davis , “Using Monte Carlo Simulation with DCF and Real Options Risk Pricing Techniques to Analyse a Mine Financing Proposal”, International Journal of Financial Engineering and Risk Management, 1, 2014, pp. 264 – 281.
  • Harrison Fell and Daniel T. Kaffine, “Can Decentralized Planning Really Achieve First-Best in the Presence of Environmental Spillovers?”, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 68, 2014, pp. 46 – 53.
  • Harrison Fell, Shanjun Li and Anthony Paul, “A New Look at Residential Electricity Demand Using Household Expenditure Data”, International Journal of Industrial Organization, 33, 2014, pp. 37 – 47.
  • Corrado Di Maria, Ian Lange and Edwin van der Werf, “Should We Be Worried About the Green Paradox? Announcement Effects of the Acid Rain Program”, European Economic Review, 69, 2014, pp. 143 – 162.
  • Andreas Ferrara, Ian Lange and Edwin van der Werf, “Voluntary Programs to Encourage Diffusion: The Case of the Combined Heat-and-Power Partnership”, The Energy Journal, 35(1), 2014, pp. 161 – 173.
  • Josef Kallrath and; Steffen Rebennack , “Cutting Ellipses from Area-Minimizing Rectangles”, Journal of Global Optimization, 59, 2014, pp. 405 – 437.
  • Josef Kallrath and; Steffen Rebennack , “Solving Real-World Cutting Stock-Problems in the Paper Industry: Mathematical Approaches, Experience and Challenges”, European Journal of Operational Research, 238, 2014, pp. 405 – 437.
  • Steffen Rebennack&nbsp, “Generation Expansion Planning Under Uncertainty with Emissions Quotas”, Electric Power Systems Research, 114, 2014, pp. 78 – 85.
  • John Shortle, Steffen Rebennack and Fred W. Glover, “Transmission-Capacity Expansion for Minimizing Blackout Probabilities”, IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, 29, 2014, pp. 43 – 52.
  • Andrew Gulley and John E. Tilton , “The Relationship Between Spot and Futures Prices: An Empirical Analysis”, Resources Policy, Elsevier 41(C), 2014, pp. 109 – 112.
Working Paper Series











Mineral and Energy Economics Research Projects

Population Dynamics Thrust of the Integrated Multi-Sector, Multi-Scale Modeling (IM3) Scientific Focus Area

Dr. Jared Carbone was awarded a U.S. Department of Energy grant in an interdisciplinary collaboration with researchers at NCAR, NREL, and PNNL, among others.

A Look Upstream: Market Restructuring, Risk, Procurement Contracts and Efficiency

Dr. Ian Lange’s co-authored paper investigates the consequences of electricity market deregulation and how it impacts coal mining productivity.

Oil Price Shocks and Canada’s Economic Performance

Jared Carbone and Kenneth Mackenzie at the University of Calgary investigate the broader economic impacts on Canada of significant changes in world oil prices.

Energy Efficiency in Tradable Performance Standards

Professor Harrison Fell and his coauthors look at the crediting standards for energy efficiency projects – an important element of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

Drilling Down the Bakken Learning Curve

PhD student Mike Redlinger analyzes improvements in horizontal drilling within the Bakken Shale Play in northwestern North Dakota and northeastern Montana.

How Do We Count Nega-watts – Energy Efficiency in Tradable Performance Standards

Professor Harrison Fell’s work (with Dan Kaffine and Dan Steinberg) looks at crediting of energy efficiency project, so-called “nega-watts”, within the context of tradable performance standards in the electricity market. This is of particular importance as energy efficiency will likely be incorporated in many states’ plans to comply with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

Determining the success of carbon capture and storage projects

Ian Lange and Dominique Thronicker (University of Stirling)

The International Energy Agency says Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) will be a key technology for meeting greenhouse gas goals. However, we do not have a systematic understanding of what makes CCS projects successful. Despite much effort into the development and demonstration of the technology in recent years, the number of CCS projects that are currently operational has fallen short of what is needed for CCS to be part of an abatement portfolio. Globally, over a quarter of CCS projects have been postponed, put on hold or cancelled altogether. However, there are also successfully operational CCS projects. Thus determining whether there are systemic characteristics that render CCS projects more likely to become operational while others are more likely to fail is important for CCS to reach its potential. A unique dataset that combines project information from various online CCS databases and contains all integrated CCS projects attempted globally, irrespective of sector, size or project outcome is utilized to uncover the factors associated with success.

We find that identification of the carbon dioxide (CO2) storage site as part of the planning process and a storage site with commercial benefit is significantly correlated to project success likelihood. This result is concerning given that non-commercial saline reservoirs account for by far the largest share of geological storage capacity. The choice of capture technologies is important. Post- and oxyfuel combustion are less likely to succeed than in other capture processes, such as pre-combustion, natural gas processing or industrial separation.

Past experience with CCS projects is negatively correlated to CCS project success. This result is surprising initially but less so when considering that less experienced investors are more likely to continue projects after it is clear they are unprofitable relative to experienced investors. Likewise initially surprising is the finding that public funding is not positively related to project success likelihood. A possible explanation for this result is that governments might look for marginally profitable investments to subsidize (allowing the private sector to finance projects expected to be profitable) or the potential for adverse selection in which projects are put forward by firms for public funding. However, we lack detailed funding data to fully explore which explanation fits better.

Optimal Resilient Power Grid Operation during the Course of a Progressing Wildfire

Steffen Rebennack and Salman Mohagheghi

Wildfires are natural phenomena that play a crucial role in many forest and grassland ecosystems. Under favorable conditions, i.e., extreme heat, availability of fuel, and high winds, they may spread beyond control and approach city limits. Power lines are vulnerable to wildfires in their vicinity, mainly due to increased conductor temperatures as a result of ambient temperature rising. This may lead to conductor annealing and/or increased sag. A violation of safety clearances of the lines could in turn lead to possible flashovers, and onset of cascading failures.

To address the situation, the operator may dynamically alter the ratings of the lines in the affected areas in order to reduce the flow of current through them, thereby assisting with conductor cooling. However, with reduced line capacities, the utility may not be able to supply all the loads from the main substation anymore. A solution is put forth in this research that enables the system operator to dispatch distributed generators, demand responsive loads, and Microgrids in order to supply loads under such emergency conditions. Due to the uncertain spread/severity of wildfires, the problem is stochastic in nature, and is therefore modeled as a two-stage stochastic optimization problem. First stage decision variables determine the reserves to be purchased before the onset of the event, while second stage decision variables represent operation setpoints. The efficiency of the proposed solution is demonstrated via two case studies.

Climate Policy and Competitiveness: Policy Guidance and Quantitative Evidence

Jared C. Carbone, Colorado School of Mines, and Nicholas Rivers, University of Ottawa

When considering adoption of a domestic climate change policy, politicians and the public frequently refer to concerns about competitiveness. Competitiveness in this context does not have a precise economic definition, referring variously to changes in employment, output, exports and well-being.  In a project sponsored by Environment Canada, Dr. Carbone and Dr. Rivers discuss possible ways to anchor the concept of competitiveness in economic analysis. This framework then serves as the basis of a systematic survey the literature on the quantitative impacts of unilateral climate change policy derived from the results of computable general equilibrium (or CGE) models, the simulation models most often used by economists to evaluate these policies.  They provide empirical estimates of the magnitude of competitiveness effects that might be associated with the adoption of unilateral climate change policies and an analysis of the key assumptions driving results produced by different models.  Working Paper

Carbon policy and the Structure of Global Trade

Dr. Ed Balistreri, Dr. Christoph Bohringer (University of Oldenburg), Dr. Thomas Rutherford (University of Wisconsin)

Alternative perspectives on the structure of international trade have important implications for climate policy and its interaction with global markets.  Under this project professors Edward J. Balistreri  (Colorado School of Mines), Christoph Bohringer (University of Oldenburg), and Thomas F. Rutherford (University of Wisconsin) are considering carbon policy in the context of three widely applied, yet distinct trade theories.  These structures are shown to have important implications for measures of carbon leakage and the spatial distribution of energy-intensive production.  Furthermore, predictions about the transmission of carbon policy burdens to non-participating countries are critically dependent on the assumed structure of trade.  It is shown that the structure of contemporary policy simulation models might significantly understate the importance of international markets in undermining subglobal climate action.

Policy Labels and Investments Decision-Making: The Effect of the Winter Fuel Payment on Renewable Installation

Dr. Ian Lange, Dr. Mirko Moro (University of Stirling) and Dr. Mohammad Rahman

Recent evidence suggests that labeling of unconditional cash transfers (food stamps, etc) leads recipients to spend more on the labeled good. This research shows that the Winter Fuel Payment (WFP), a transfer in the UK meant to help older households stay warm in the winter, has distortionary effects on the market for renewable technologies. Although the WFP does not require households to spend the cash benefit on energy, households in receipt of the WFP are statistically less likely to invest in renewable energy technologies, such as solar water heaters, solar panels and micro wind turbines. This is because the WFP name appears to encourage households to use fuel, rather than investing the payment in renewable energy technologies

Since WFP eligibility is based on the date at which a member of the household turns 60 years, and because the WFP is not means-tested, it is possible to compare households who just missed eligibility with those that are only recently eligible. Information on household characteristics such as employment status and income were also controlled for. To ensure that differences in renewable energy installations were attributable to the WFP name, researchers further looked for changes in the propensity to purchase other durable goods. No change in investing in a new kitchen or car was found between those in receipt of the WFP and those not, while there was a clear negative shift in the probability of installing renewable solar or wind technologies.

Keeping older citizens warm in winter could still be achieved by nudging people towards cleaner or more efficient energy sources. Perhaps a benefit name that includes the words ‘renewable energy’ or ‘energy efficiency’ would ensure that households consider more energy efficient technologies while still achieving the health goals of the current WFP policy. Working Paper

What’s killing coal? The effects of natural gas abundance and renewables on coal-fired plants

Dr. Harrison Fell and Dr. Daniel T. Kaffine (CU-Boulder)

Since 2007, coal-fired electricity generation in the US has declined by a stunning 25%. At the same time, natural gas-fired generation and wind generation have dramatically increased due to technological advances and policy interventions. We examine the joint impact of natural gas prices and wind generation on coal generation, with a particular focus on the interaction between low natural gas prices and increased wind generation. Exploiting detailed daily unit-level data, we estimate the response of coal-fired generation across six transmission regions within the US. We find that low natural gas prices and increased wind generation have both led to reductions in coal-fired generation. Furthermore, we find evidence that the interaction between natural gas prices and wind generation is statistically and economically significant, and led to a greater reduction in coal-fired generation than would be explained by either factor alone. For example, in the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) region, the reduction in 2013 capacity factors of coal-fired plants due to low natural gas prices was twice as large with wind generation at 2013 levels compared to the case where wind generation stayed at 2008 levels. Similarly, in the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region, had natural gas prices remained at 2008 levels, wind generation in 2013 would have reduced coal capacity factors by an inconsequential 0.1 percentage point; however, with natural gas prices at 2013 levels, wind generation reduced capacity factors by 4 percentage points. As a result, policies such as carbon pricing combined with increased renewable portfolio standards would be complimentary in terms of their impact on coal-fired generation.

Mining and Energy in Central America

Dr. Graham Davis

Mining and oil production is a relatively minor component of Central America’s economies. Yet, as exploration success in the more traditional regions of the world decreases mining and oil companies are looking at Central America as a target for production.Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, and Honduras have all seen mining or oil production increase in the past decade. Central America’s extant laws regarding exploration for and production of mining and oil are in most cases outdated and ill-suited for the current world order. In a research project coordinated by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), Professor Graham Davis is collaborating with researchers from several Central American countries to plot a path forward regarding public policy for mining and oil production. The final product will be a book co-authored with the IADB’s Regional Economic Advisor for Central America, Dr. Osmel Manzano.

Recycling, Solid Waste, and Public Policy

Dr. Dan Kaffine (Co-PI, research lead), Dr. Rod Eggert (Co-PI), Dr. John Tilton (Co-PI), Dr. Edward Balistreri, Dr. Michael Heeley
Project website

It has been more than two decades since the modern era of recycling and waste disposal began. This research project, generously funded by the Alcoa Foundation, examines the intersection between public policy and waste and recycling. Specific, on-going projects look at incorporating greenhouse gas emissions into waste and recycling policy-decision models, impacts of carbon pricing on aluminum production and recycling activities, trends in generation and recovery of municipal solid waste, optimal recycling rates of different materials, impacts of waste and recycling policies on secondary scrap markets, and drivers of recycling innovation. It is hoped that the outputs from these projects will provide policymakers with new insights and policy guidance in the selection of waste and recycling management approaches.

An Examination of the Mine Value Curve

Dr. Graham Davis (Sponsor: Denham Capital Management LP)

There is a belief amongst those in the mining industry that individual project share prices follow a fairly regular path as the project moves from exploration through to production. This price path at first rises, then falls once the major drilling results are in, and then rises again as the project moves towards production. Asset pricing dictates that such a price curve cannot be sustained, as investors would sell at the peak and buy at the trough, causing the curve to migrate towards one that has price increasing at the required rate of discount. This project seeks to explore whether such a curve actually exists, and if so, how it can be sustained given what appears to be trading strategies that would destroy the curve.

Replicating Sachs and Warner

Dr. Graham Davis

In 1997 Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner published the first of a series of empirical papers examining what has come to be called the Resource Curse. These papers have been cited thousands of times, have influenced development and industrial policies, and are the basis for many extensions and reexaminations of the Resource Curse theory. To my knowledge the papers have never been replicated, and so I undertook a program of research to do just that. I find that most of the regression results can be replicated, but that in some cases Sachs and Warner’s policy conclusions are based on erroneous interpretations of the regression coefficients. In a 2011 paper called The Resource Drag I also show that their early work suffered from omitted variable bias, and that once this bias is corrected there may no longer be a Resource Curse.

The Terms of Trade Debate: Implications for Primary Product Producers

Dr. John E. Tilton

The terms of trade debate initiated by Raul Prebisch and Hans Singer over half a century ago continues to this day, and is unlikely to be resolved soon. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, however, to suggest that countries should diversify away from the production of mineral commodities and other primary products, as Prebisch, Singer, and others have done, may be counterproductive, encouraging countries to abandon their most promising path to faster economic development.

This is because the long-run trends in the real prices of most goods reflect shifts in their market supply curves and in turn production costs. If the prices of primary products are falling but a country’s production costs are falling more, the producer surplus or wealth the country realizes is rising, increasing the benefits it receives from its primary product production and trade. Alternatively, if prices are rising but a country’s costs are rising more, the benefits from primary product production and trade are presumably falling despite the higher primary product prices.

This largely conceptual analysis will eventually be submitted for publication to a professional journal.

Material Efficiency: An Economic Perspective

Dr. John E. Tilton; coauthor: Patrik Söderholm (Luleå University of Technology)

This work presents an economic perspective of material efficiency, and discusses the role of public policy in providing market incentives for a more efficient use of materials. In doing so, it comments on the engineering approach to material efficiency presented in an article that Allwood and others published in 2011 in Resources, Conservation and Recycling. We argue that concerns over potential future resource scarcities do not represent a strong motive for introducing policies to foster greater material efficiency but that various environmental externalities and information failures in the relevant material markets do. Moreover, in such instances, policy makers should opt for regulatory measures that target the relevant market failures (e.g., environmental damages) as closely as possible. This normally means avoiding policies that directly encourage specific material efficiency options. Policy measures that instead address particular environmental problems and information externalities will enhance material efficiency in a more effective manner. This is because ex ante it is difficult for policy makers to know in what ways and by how much to alter material production and use.

The World of Metals: Understanding the Behavior of Metal Markets and Industries

Dr. John E. Tilton

This book project, which draws on my research and teaching over the past 30 years, aims to provide an overview for the interested non-specialist of how metal industries and markets operate and why they behave as they do.

The first half of the book, which is largely finished, examines the nature of metal demand and supply over both the short and long runs. Here among other things it looks at material substitution, recycling and secondary production, as well as by-product and co-product production. It then focuses on mineral markets and prices, and in particular why metal prices are so volatile in the short run, and why for many metals they have been falling in real terms over the long run. The recent rise in metal prices is also be examined, including the issue of whether this upturn reflects just another cyclical fluctuation or a reversal in the long-run downward trend in real prices. The first half of the book finishes by exploring international metal trade.

The second half will address a number of important policy issues associated with metal production and use. These include: the long-run threat posed by mineral depletion; the resource curse, or more generally the relationship between mineral wealth and the economic development of producing countries; the nature of the economic rents associated with mining and their distribution among mining companies, host governments, local communities, and other interested parties; and finally a host of issues related to mining and sustainable development, including the intergeneration equity and environmental and other social costs arising from mining and metal use.

Engineering and Technology Management Research Projects

Innovation and Firm Performance: The Value of Dense Versus Porous Thickets

Dr. Michael Heeley (with Jeffrey G. Covin, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business)

The importance of patented inventions in generating firm value has long been recognized.  In this research we investigate the assumption that dense patent thickets are generally associated with increased value and argue that in certain contexts, porous thickets will actually be more positively associated with firm value.  We hypothesize and find that the recency (or age) of the knowledge underlying the patent thicket and the competitiveness of the technological environment moderate the thicket density–firm value relationship.  In doing so, we make an important theoretical contribution by showing when firm value is best promoted through creating stronger versus weaker barriers around innovations.

CVC Funding From the Start-Up Perspective:  A Source of Uncertainty or Clarity in the Market for IPOS?

Dr. Michael Heeley (with Sharon F. Matusik, CU-Boulder, Markus Fitza, Bentley University)

Corporate venture capital (CVC) investments are an important component of technology entrepreneurship for established firms and can serve as a vehicle for identifying new technology opportunities.  If the CVC benefits from using these investments strategically, though, what does this mean to the start-up receiving them?  We investigate how the potential for behavioral uncertainty related to possible value appropriation by CVCs can create information asymmetries at technology start-ups’ IPOs.   We find CVC investments are associated with increased underpricing.  In contexts that further obscure whether the CVC might appropriate value (i.e., low IP protection, high industry concentration), underpricing is more pronounced.