Sign up | Login with →

Posts by Severin Borenstein Subscribe

What's a University to do about Climate Change?

About a year ago, I blogged about the fossil fuel divestment movement at universities, arguing that it is unlikely to have any effect, and that even if it did it would be to raise fuel prices, which we could do more directly with a carbon tax....

Posted December 9, 2014    

What's So Great About Fixed Charges?

There’s a lot of talk in California these days about imposing fixed monthly charges on residential electricity bills.  The large investor-owned utilities in California have small or no fixed charges,[1] instead collecting all of their revenue...

Posted November 5, 2014    

Rationalizing California's Residential Electricity Rates

California is finally talking seriously about changing the way utilities price electricity for residential customers.  In particular, as a result of recent legislative actions, the CPUC now has some flexibility to modify the extreme increasing-...

Posted September 30, 2014    

Californians Can Handle the Truth About Gas Prices

A few weeks ago, Jim blogged about the concerns that cap-and-trade will drive up gas prices in California.   In late June, those concerns resulted in a letter from Assemblymember Perea and 15 other Democrats asking the California Air...

Posted August 12, 2014    

What's the Worst That Could Happen?

Co-authored with my three collaborators in cap-and-trade work for the California Air Resources Board: Frank Wolak, Jim Bushell and Matt Zaragoza-Watkins.California’s year-and-a-half old cap-and-trade market for reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) has...

Posted July 8, 2014    

Money for Nothing?

Since the beginning of electricity grids, demand has fluctuated and supply has been made to follow along. But for decades, economists and some grid engineers have dreamed of having demand play a more active role in balancing the system.  With...

Posted May 13, 2014    

It’s Time to Refocus California's Climate Strategy

You know this already, but let’s review:Climate change is a global emissions problem.California produces about 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.Over the next few decades, the majority of emissions will come from developing countries.If we...

Posted April 8, 2014    

In Defense of Picking Winners

Virtually all economists working on climate change agree that we should price GHG emissions.  Doing so creates an incentive to reduce emissions without the government directing specific technology adoptions or activity changes, that is, without...

Posted March 4, 2014    

What Wood Smoke has Taught Me About Fighting Climate Change

While much of the U.S. has been dealing with severe winter weather, California is experiencing a record dry spell.  The clear skies have also brought some cold nights and, with them, wood smoke.  What I’ve noticed in my neighborhood is...

Posted February 4, 2014    

Understanding Energy Usage Starts at Home

Since Catherine and Max have written blog posts about their home heating, I thought I’d start the year with my own, equally geeky, piece on electricity use at home.Electricity is probably the least salient thing we consume. When we are buying...

Posted January 6, 2014    

Is Demonizing "Big Carbon" a Strategy or a Copout?

Are we really being tricked, bullied or seduced into burning fossil fuels?  That seems to be the message behind two arguments made recently by prominent advocates for climate action: we should blame the producers of fossil fuels for the failure...

Posted December 17, 2013    

Rate Design Wars: The Sound of Utilities Taking Residential PV Seriously

Imagine walking into your supermarket with a bag of zucchini from your garden and saying that you’d like to trade them straight up for an equal quantity of zucchini next month.The store manager would explain that they aren’t in the business of...

Posted November 14, 2013