SEGS Research: Energy


  • Energy generation, distribution, and regulation are rapidly evolving. SEGS lab researchers are interested in development of the Smart Grid and other energy-related advances.

  • Publications

  • The Salience and Complexity of Building, Regulating and Governing the Smart Grid: Lessons from a Statewide Public-Private Partnership.

    Koliba, C., DeMenno, M., Brune, N. and Zia, A.

    2014. Energy Policy 74:243-252

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    Smart grid deployment unfolds within a diverse array of multi-institutional arrangements that may be too fragmented and decentralized to allow for the kind of large-scale and coordinated investments needed to properly deploy the smart grid. This case study provides an account of how one state arranged for and eventually deployed smart grid technology to over 85 percent of its resident. The study asks: does the deployment of the smart grid introduce new socio-political variables into the electricity distribution industry? To make sense of the socio-political variables shaping the industry and regulators, the Salience–Complexity Model is used to assess whether the smart grid raises or lowers the level of public scrutiny caste upon the industry (issue salience) and the level of technical capacity needed to execute and utilize the smart grid (technical complexity). The conclusions to be drawn from this study include: smart grid technology heightens the issue salience and the technical complexity of electricity distribution, but that the smart grid will likely not have a significant impact on the restructuring of electricity regulation.
  • The Challenge of Accountability in Complex Regulatory Networks: The Case of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Regulation & Governance.

    Mills, R. and Koliba, C.

    2014. Regulation & Governance (2015) 9, 77–91.

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    A puzzle that faces public administrators within regulatory governance networks is how to balance the need for democratic accountability while increasingly facing demands from elected officials to optimize over- sight of industry by utilizing the expertise of the private sector in developing risk-based standards for compliance. The shift from traditional command and control oversight to process oriented regulatory regimes has been most pronounced in highly complex industries, such as aviation and deepwater oil drilling, where the intricate and technical nature of operations necessitates risk-based regulatory networks based largely on voluntary compliance with mutually agreed upon standards. The question addressed in this paper is how the shift to process oriented regimes affects the trade-offs between democratic, market, and administrative accountability frames, and what factors determine the dominant accountability frame within the network. Using post-incident document analysis, this paper provides a case study of regulatory oversight of the deepwater oil drilling industry prior to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, to explore how the shift to a more networked risk-based regulatory regime affects the trade-offs and dominant accountability frames within the network. The results of this study indicate that a reliance on market-based accountability mechanisms, along with the lack of a fully implemented process- oriented regulatory regime, led to the largest oil spill in US history.