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For Immediate Release: December 15, 2004
Contact: Percy Della   916-654-4989

Center for the Study of California's Electricity
Markets to Continue at UC Berkeley

Sacramento - A research center - intended to assist California energy policy makers understand the complexities of the State's restructured electricity market - is expected to continue operation at the University of California, Berkeley.

The California Energy Commission today approved a grant of about $2.3 million in Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program funds over three years for the center within the UC Energy Institute based on the Berkeley campus.

Started in 2001 with an initial PIER grant of $2.1 million, the Center for the Study of Electricity Markets (CSEM) will remain home to experts not typically found within state agencies such as the Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission. The Energy Institute will continue to provide matching funds.

As it now operates, CSEM researchers study the performance and design of electricity markets throughout the United States. Undeterred by the electricity crisis that hit California and the West in 2000-2001, other states, notably those in the upper Northeast and the Great Lakes, continue to shift toward more competitive electricity markets.

The center also looks into experiences in other countries such as Great Britain and Australia that illustrate how electricity markets came about through compromises and trade-offs involving major electricity players and regulators. As a result, the center will help develop strategies and tools that can be used by regulatory agencies and policy makers in their analysis of electricity markets.

Knowledge gained at the CSEM will be transferred to government and non-government policy makers charged with assessing how competitive markets can be created and sustained. The center is inspired by the role of university researchers and how they have provided the foundation for the deregulation of the airline, natural gas and trucking industries. Researchers based at academic institutions have played a prominent role in restructuring efforts around the country.

Likely users of the Center's policy results are members and staffers of the California Legislature and decision-makers at energy policy and regulatory bodies and also include the management and governing board of the Independent System Operator. Technical analyses are expected to benefit staff members of various government agencies and market participants.

While attracting prominent academic researchers, the CSEM tackles five major subjects: reliability and adequacy of supply; retail competition and demand side price response; market design and efficiency; market power mitigation tools, and interactions of electricity markets and environment regulations.

The center will hold an annual research conference on electricity industry restructuring and regular seminars on its ongoing research.

An annual policy forum on electricity restructuring will be directed at policy makers, including representatives from the Energy Commission, the Public Utilities Commission, the Independent System Operator and the State Legislature.

In addition to advances in economic science that is expected from CSEM, the Energy Commission views the proposed research as a complement to its existing capabilities. It is also an effective way to build staff capability that is difficult to accomplish within civil service and will utilize research results in the public policy debates and recommendations to the governor and the legislature.

For further information, contact Karen Knotsund , center administrator at 510) 642-9590, or log on to:


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