The Interaction of Regulation, Markets, and Technology: Consumer Empowerment in the Electric Power Industry

Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Kiesling Poster
7:00 p.m. – Stern Center, Great Room
Lynne Kiesling, senior lecturer of economics at Northwestern University and research scholar, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science at George Mason University

Widespread electric power was one of the most dramatic achievements of the 20th century, and throughout its life there has been great tension among regulation, markets, and technological change. This talk will explore those tensions, with specific applications to regulatory, economic, and technological change in the early 21st century. Digital technology has transformed how we live our lives in many ways, but it has not affected how customers consume power or control their energy choices. We will explore the important implications of these questions for economic efficiency and equity, and for environmental quality.

Issue in Context
One of the most striking characteristics of the 20th century were advancements in the physical sciences. One such defining accomplishment was the spread of electrical power throughout the United States. Since then constant tension between consumers, electrical companies, regulation, and technological change has existed. Electrical companies continually strain to generate the amount of power consumers demand. Due to environmental issues, the U.S. government begins to regulate the electrical companies, which, some would argue, places even more strain on them.

Over the past fifty years the number of electronics on the market and the amount of energy demanded have been steadily increasing. In the last fifteen years, as a result of the widespread use of computers and the onset of the digital age, demand and usage has multiplied exponentially.

The problem is that as consumers use more and more electronics, they are not interested in choosing between which electronics to purchase or use. They simply use them all and consume as much energy as they need. The conservation of electricity has resonated with the public the way, for example, oil and gas conservation or recycling have resonated.

About the Speaker
Lynne Kiesling is a senior lecturer of economics at Northwestern University. She is also a research scholar for the Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science at George Mason University.

Dr. Kiesling’s current research is focused on the energy market and the networks therein. She has published numerous articles in journals such as the Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance and the Electricity Journal. She has also published articles in numerous book chapters and encyclopedia entries.

Dr. Kiesling previously held positions as an assistant professor of economics at the College of William and Mary and the director of economic policy for the Reason Foundation, as well as manager for transfer pricing economics at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Dr. Kiesling has received numerous research grants including the Searle Fund for Policy Research. She received her B.S. in economics from Miami University and her Ph. D. in economics from Northwestern University.