Daniel Matisoff, PhD, teaches and conducts research in the areas of public policy and environmental policy. Dr. Matisoff's research focuses on the effectiveness and efficiency of comparative approaches to addressing environmental problems. His work has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the European Union Center for Excellence, and the German Academic Exchange Service, and has resulted in publications in Environmental and Resource Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Science and Technology, Business Strategy and the Environment, and the Review of Policy Research, among other outlets. His current research interests include: evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of voluntary approaches to climate change policy; the responsiveness of regulated electric utility to energy price shocks; examining the impacts of state approaches to energy and climate change policy; and the diffusion of environmental behavior among individuals and corporations.
Q: Tell us about your energy research focus?
I am interested in the design and effectiveness of policy and programs to address energy use and promote clean-energy technology. This research focus takes multiple forms: 1) How do energy policies interact with markets to shape firm behavior? 2) What are the consequences of voluntary initiatives by firms to reduce fossil fuel use and adopt energy efficient technologies? 3) What are the patterns of adoption and effectiveness of state level energy policies?
Q: How is globalization creating unique challenges for energy organizations?
Climate change is politically and economically complex. The causes and consequences of climate change span political boundaries - decision-making in the U.S. EU, or China has consequences around the globe. Similarly, energy commodities and technologies are developed and traded on global markets, giving individual countries less control over the drivers and consequences of energy and policy decisions. The complexity of climate change requires international cooperation and coordination that are extremely difficult to achieve.
Q: How are recent regulatory changes affecting traditional energy providers and producers of alternative and renewable energy?
Federal and state policies incentivize the production of renewable energy and use other regulatory tools that drive the adoption of renewable energy. At the same time, and perhaps as a consequence of these policies, the economics of renewable energy is changing rapidly. Technologies such as wind and solar are becoming more cost-competitive with coal while natural gas has become much cheaper. These shifts in the markets are making coal obsolete while we are seeing rapid growth in solar, wind, and natural gas.
Q: Most promising shift in U.S. energy policy?
While federal policy has been slow to develop solutions for climate change and energy challenges, the states have demonstrated remarkable innovation across a variety of policies to drive renewable energy development. Policies such as Net Metering, Renewable Portfolio Standards, and tax incentives for renewables at the state level have the potential to drive renewable energy production. Further, as the EPA moves to regulate carbon emissions from existing coal power plants, we may see a new era of state innovation, leading the way to a comprehensive approach to addressing carbon emissions.
Q: How are clean energy innovations being embraced and explored globally?
The rest of the world has embraced the clean energy revolution, and while the U.S. has been slow to embrace carbon pricing, the rest of the world has moved forward. China is experimenting with a cap and trade system and is exploring how to tackle its horrendous air quality problems. The EU and Australia already have carbon pricing mechanisms. Japan and other countries are embracing renewable energy to replace nuclear energy. Other countries appear to be embracing clean energy policy and comprehensive carbon pricing as ways to transition to a cleaner energy future.
Q: If you weren't teaching or conducting research, what would you be doing?
I'd be traveling the world with my family, trekking to remote places, and trying new foods and drinks along the way.