From Electrons to Renewable Energy Credits: An Introduction to Electricity and Electricity Policy

Winter 2015 quarter

Taught by

energy resources, sustainable/renewable energy, energy policy, nuclear power industry, social implications of technology choices, political ecology

Electricity generation contributes about one-third of the annual greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Even though most states have passed renewable energy legislation, the country has no national standard for renewable resources in this important contributor to daily life and the economy.  This course will introduce students to the basic concepts of electrical generation and the history of the electrical industry in the U.S. The course will also examine the major pieces of energy and environmental policy at the national level that have impacted the electrical industry and set the stage for a renewable energy future—Clean Air Act (1970), National Energy Act (1978), Energy Security Act (1980), Energy Policy Act (1992 and 2005), Energy Independency and Security Act (2007), American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2009).  Finally, the course will look at policies in the state of Washington such as the Renewable Energy Standard (2006) and the companion Renewable Energy Sales and Use Tax Exemption (2006). Students will come away from the class with a deeper understanding of the challenges of moving from the current centralized, grid-tied, interconnected electrical system to a more renewably sourced, decentralized one.   This will give them a much better grasp of what still needs to be done technically, politically, and socially.

Faculty Biography
Kathleen M. Saul, M.A., M.E.S., received her BA in French and BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and MA in Management from the Wharton School of Business (University of Pennsylvania) before turning her attention to environmental issues and eventually joining the MES program at Evergreen.  After completing her degree in 2009, she taught Statistics in the Evening and Weekend studies program and Qualitative Methods, an Energy elective and gCORE in the Graduate Program on the Environment. Kathleen then moved to the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Delaware to pursue her PhD. Her dissertation research focuses on the displacement of people that results from large scale technology projects, with a focus those involving nuclear technology.  While at Delaware, she participated in research projects looking into the energy policy implications of the Fukushima nuclear disaster as well as alternative administrative forms for organizations devoted to energy conservation, efficiency, and sustainable energy options. She also taught in the undergraduate Introduction to Energy Policy and Sustainable Energy Policy and Planning courses.  Her engineering acumen, business sense, and environmental awareness all come together in understanding modern energy systems and the green energy economy.

Program Details

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Evening

Advertised schedule: 6-10p Wed


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Registration Information

Credits: 4 (Winter)

Class standing: Graduate

Maximum enrollment: 15


Course Reference Number

(4 GR credits): 20287

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