Diversity of Fuel Sources for Electricity Generation in an Evolving U.S. Power Sector
DiLuccia, Janelle G.
Hunger, David E.
Policymakers increasingly have shown interest in options to boost the relative share of renewable or clean electricity generating sources in order to reduce negative environmental externalities from fossil fuels, guard against possible resource constraints, and capture economic advantages from developing new technologies and industries. Electric utilities and non-utility generators make decisions regarding their generation mix based on a number of different factors that may or may not align with societal goals. This paper examines the makeup of the electric power sector to determine how the type of generator and the presence (or lack) of competition in electricity markets at the state level may relate to the types of fuel sources used for generation. Using state-level electricity generation data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration from 1990 through 2010, this paper employs state and time fixed-effects regression modeling to attempt to isolate the impacts of state-level restructuring policies and the emergence of non-utility generators on states' generation from coal, from fossil fuel and from renewable sources. While the analysis has significant limitations, I do find that state-level electricity restructuring has a small but significant association with lowering electricity generation from coal specifically and fossil fuels more generally. Further research into the relationship between competition and fuel sources would aid policymakers considering legislative options to influence the generation mix.
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