An investigation into the equity of solar PV development by Professor Christine Crago and Extension Professor Dwayne Breger was one of three proposals selected for funding through the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) and the School of Earth and Sustainability’s 2019 Social Science and Environment Seed Grant competition.
The SSEN Seed Grant awards, totaling $40,000 in new investments, are designed to stimulate new scholarly collaborations for innovative research centered on sustainability themes in the social sciences. The Seed Grant program is a strategic initiative of the Social Science and Environment Network (SSEN), which ISSR helped to create in 2015. This active network draws on support from the School of Earth and Sustainability and ISSR to connect and promote the work of social scientists working on these issues across the UMass Amherst and Five College campuses. Seed grant projects engage scholars from a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise, including the social sciences, natural and physical sciences, engineering, design, planning and private sector industry. This degree of inter-disciplinary collaboration exemplifies the SSEN commitment to spanning disciplinary boundaries to open new ways of conceptualizing and studying the defining issues of our times.
The research project, titled “Where do the Benefits of Solar Market Development Go? Distributional Impacts of the Economic Rents from Massachusetts Solar Programs,” represents a collaboration among Dwayne Breger, CEE Director and Extension Professor within the Department of Environmental Conservation, Christine Crago, Professor of Resource Economics, and Tom Michelman, of Sustainable Energy Advantage, LLC. The project will investigate economic and distributional impacts of solar market growth in Massachusetts, through an analysis of the flow of investment and distribution of economic rents across market sectors and market participants in the MA Solar Carve Out I & II programs. The project will further examine the welfare implications for households of different income groups and different forms of ownership in the solar market. The results of this study will shed light on the equity and distributional effects of state and federal solar policies and provide insights into the influence of policy structures on the distribution of economic rents. This research will also establish a framework for further research to examine other rapidly growing clean energy markets, and how federal, state, and local policies can be used to enhance the equity of clean energy development. The project team will receive $12,000 in SSEN Seed Grant funds to support its research.