Luskin Center Receives California Energy Commission Grants for Clean Transportation and Energy Planning

Sustainable Mobility EV 083012_1As the new year begins, the Luskin Center for Innovation prepares for two exciting projects recently funded by the California Energy Commission (CEC). In response to the Program Opportunity Notice (PON) entitled “Advancing Utility-Scale Clean Energy Generation”, the Luskin Center has teamed with UC San Diego, San Diego Gas and Electric and others to deploy high accuracy, short-term solar forecasting technologies to allow commercial and industrial ratepayers to maximize their available rooftop space for solar photovoltaic by co-optimizing their electrical demand load with flexible workplace plug-in electric vehicles (PEV). As distributed energy resources gain a greater share of utility generation, forecasting and energy storage technology will play vital roles in load management – lowering integration costs and providing greater reliability at the benefit of ratepayers. The Luskin Center’s role in the project will be to apply its PEV expertise to identify and prioritize top warehouse cluster candidates that may qualify as pilot projects and estimate the ratepayer benefits associated with forecast-enhanced solar systems combined with on-site energy storage capacity. The project is expected to be complete in 2016.

The Luskin Center was also awarded funding for the CEC PON “Zero Emission Vehicle Readiness”. On the heels of the American Planning Association awarded “Southern California Plug-in Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan”, the Luskin Center will take the next step in PEV planning as recommended by the Plan. Specifically, the new project will tackle one of the biggest hurdles to widespread PEV adoption – multi-unit dwelling (MUD) charging. A high number of residents in apartment buildings and condominiums (a significant percentage of which are low-income) remain unable to install charging equipment on-site due to installation costs and ownership issues, and thus are precluded from PEV ownership. In partnership with the South Bay Cities Council of Governments, the goal of the project will be to identify top MUD candidates for outreach and pilot projects based primarily on PEV charging installation costs and PEV demand. The project is also expected to be complete in 2016.


Urban Planning Student Awarded Switzer Fellowship


By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin student writer 

Aaron Ordower, a graduate student pursuing a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning in the Luskin School was awarded the Switzer Environmental Fellowship, a highly competitive and merit based award, by the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation.

The fellowship is awarded to 20 environmental leaders recognized by their academic institution or environmental experts. Through the fellowship, Ordower was awarded $15,000 to complete his degree and will be supported by the Switzer Foundation to continue his work facing crucial environmental challenges in Los Angeles.

Ordower has focused on urban sustainability and studies strategies for the development of transit friendly neighborhoods and urban growth to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reverse the effects of urban sprawl. He is also interested in how the different sectors of urban development, transportation, resource management and others can affect one another and work together for a more sustainable urban environment.

Urban planning students who have previously been awarded the prestigious award include Colleen Callahan who focused on transportation planning and environmental policy (2010) as well as John Scott-Railton and Miriam Torres who focused on climate change adaptation and water quality in low income communities (2011).

IMPACT Report 2014

We are pleased to share with you the Luskin Center’s annual newsletter, IMPACT. Now in its fifth year, the Luskin Center is undergoing exciting growth. We have formed new research partnerships, informed policies, and received several awards for our research products. We could not have done any of it without you and our other collaborators. We invite you to learn more by checking out the newsletter and staying in touch throughout the next academic year.

David Cohen Offers Policy Suggestions for Protecting Foster Youth Social Welfare professor explains how to stem the tide of psychotropic drug prescriptions to children in foster care.


In November, UCLA Luskin Professor David Cohen was quoted in an ongoing investigative series by the San Jose Mercury News and Bay Area News Group on psychiatric drugs and foster youth.

In the third reported piece in the investigation titled “The Rx Alliance That Drugs Our Kids,” the San Jose Mercury News reveals that nearly 1 of every 4 adolescents in California’s foster care system are prescribed psychiatric drugs to control their behavior. That is more than three times the rate for adolescents nationwide. Often, the drugs that are prescribed are untested or not approved for children.

The investigation also showcased the relationship between the foster care prescribers and pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceutical companies are spending millions of dollars to influence physicians who prescribe psychiatric medications to California children in foster care. The article explains that foster care prescribers earn nearly twice as much than the typical California doctor, with the highest paid doctors ranging from child psychiatrists to researchers at universities. The bulk of the payments fund drug company-sponsored research.

Professor Cohen noted that this incentive from pharmaceutical companies may be a motivating factor for some doctors.

“These figures suggest these doctors are not looking out primarily for the kids’ interests…but are looking out for their financial interests, and we should all be wary,” he said.

“The experimentation, the drug cocktails, the first-line drugging typically starts with the group that’s the least protected — and foster kids are at the bottom of the ladder in our society and so it’s easier to do this to them.”

Last week, as a follow-up to this article, Cohen offered some policy suggestions in California Healthline, for how to deal with the situation.

His policy proposals are:

1. The Department of Social Services should publish every quarter the percentage of children in foster care and other residential settings under state care who receive one or more prescriptions for psychotropic drugs. This publicly funded aggregated data has obvious public health relevance and no confidentiality concerns exist.

2. Any payment to a physician from a drug company is a payment for good services rendered (i.e., increasing a company’s revenues by enticing physicians to write prescriptions to foster children publicly reimbursed through Medicaid). Consumer bureaus should develop lists of physicians who do not accept funding of any kind from pharmaceutical companies. The medical licensing board should require physicians to display prominent signs in their waiting rooms informing patients about their drug industry funding.

 3. Alaska attorney Jim Gottstein has argued that cocktails of antipsychotics for behavior problems of children are prescriptions for non-medically indicated reasons and thus constitute false claims for Medicaid reimbursement according its own rules. If so, California Medi-Cal might just wish to obey federal law: screen those prescriptions properly and refuse to reimburse them (and kindly notify prescribers that they are breaking the law).

4. The executives of pharmaceutical companies found to have engaged in illegal marketing of their products should be held criminally responsible rather than their companies just paying fines as the cost of doing business (like $10.4 billion in 74 court judgments and settlements between 2010 and 2012).

5. Child welfare workers and juvenile court judges have an ethical duty to inform themselves responsibly about the drugs they encourage and sometimes compel non-consenting children to take. The drug industry floods the market with studies purporting to show short-term improvement in symptoms while it studiously under-documents harms and long-term consequences. Perhaps these officials should be held responsible when things go wrong, not just given a free pass because they don’t prescribe.

6. A stable foster placement matters for a child’s well-being, thus child welfare workers may understandably refer a child for a medication evaluation in order to avoid interrupting the placement. But psychological and behavioral instabilities shown by maltreated or neglected children are normal reactions to adversity, not mental illnesses to medicalize. A severe or delayed reaction to maltreatment does not automatically justify a prescription; it requires even more personal, individual attention given to a child.


Ananya Roy to direct new UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy Appointment effective July 1, 2015.


International development scholar Ananya Roy will lead a new institute examining inequality and democracy at UCLA Luskin as its inaugural director, Dean Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., announced today. Roy’s appointment is effective July 1, 2015.

Roy’s charge at the new institute will be to oversee a multifaceted program of research, training, and public outreach operating at the nexus of democracy, social justice and governance/political participation. The project is a major initiative of UCLA Luskin’s five-point strategic plan, adopted in the wake of the $50 million naming gift from Meyer and Renee Luskin to UCLA’s School of Public Affairs in 2011.

Roy comes to UCLA from the University of California, Berkeley, where she served as a professor of city and regional planning and distinguished chair in global poverty and practice. She was also the education director at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. In 2010 The New Yorker called her “one of Berkeley’s star teachers,” and in 2006 she earned the Distinguished Teaching Award, the college’s highest faculty teaching honor, and the Distinguished Faculty Mentorship Award.

“I am thrilled to welcome Ananya to UCLA Luskin as the head of the institute,” Dean Gilliam said. “Her creativity, collaborative spirit and impeccable academic credentials are an exact match for the positive change inherent in this new endeavor, and I know she will serve as an inspiration to our faculty and students.”

With research interests ranging from social theory to comparative urban studies, Roy has dedicated much of her scholarship to exploring and understanding the formation of geopolitical hierarchies. Her book Poverty Capital: Microfinance and the Making of Development won the 2011 Paul Davidoff Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, given for books that promote participatory planning and positive social change. She is also the author of City Requiem, Calcutta: Gender and the Politics of Poverty and co-editor of Urban Informality: Transnational Perspectives from the Middle East, South Asia, and Latin America; The Practice of International Health; and Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global.

Projects under her direction have received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Social Sciences Research Council, the Ford Foundation, USAID and others. Roy’s service on editorial boards includes the publications Public Culture and Territory, Politics and Governance, among many others.

As the institute builds an interdisciplinary approach to solving societal problems and leveraging the work of our three departments and across the campus, Roy’s previous experience at the University of California will play a key role. As the founding chair of Berkeley’s undergraduate program in global poverty and practice, she led a field of study that brings together hundreds of students from over 30 majors to understand the challenges of global poverty through creativity and practical experience. She also served as chair of the urban studies major, which takes a holistic approach to designing a new, humane approach to urbanism for a global populace.

At UCLA Luskin, Roy will hold an endowed chair provided by Meyer and Renee Luskin. Born in Calcutta, she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees at Berkeley and took her bachelor’s at Mills College.

‘Most of us could do more to make it a truly charitable-giving season’ Bill Parent writes in the LA Times on the holidays and charitable giving in Los Angeles.


“Greater Los Angeles is not as generous as it used to be and not as generous as it could be,” UCLA Luskin’s Bill Parent wrote in an op-ed printed in the Los Angeles Times.

Parent, associate dean for Strategic Initiatives, also serves as the director of the Center for Civil Society, which produces an annual regional nonprofit survey that reports on the state of charitable giving. This year’s report was released in November.

According to the report, charitable giving in Los Angeles County is 12% lower than it was in 2006, the year before the Great Recession hit. And the majority of residents give less than 2% of their household income.

“As the end-of-year charity appeals pick up, it’s important to remember what a difference just a little more giving can make,” Parent says.

A summary of some of the report’s more salient points can be found in this news story.


Global Public Affairs’ Stephen Commins Contributes to World Bank Report Urban Planning lecturer Stephen Commins was one of the researchers that put together the 2015 World Development Report.


By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin student writer 

Urban Planning lecturer Stephen Commins was part of a team of researchers that wrote the World Bank’s new World Development Report for 2015, Mind, Society and Behavior, published on Dec. 4.

The report focuses on understanding human behavior for economic development, psychological and social perspectives on policy. It aims to capture how the processes of the mind and the influence of society can improve implementation of development policies and interventions that target behavior.

Commins said he thinks the report asks very different questions about the nature of public policy and the role of government and the way we understand poverty and power than what has been the standard approach to development.

“People are social beings and have a sense of social bonding. This is not surprising but it’s surprising that it hasn’t been taken into account more frequently,” he said. Commins also wrote a piece about the report for Public World blog.

Though it is typically assumed in economic policy making that people think rationally, the report finds more complex and thorough information about how people make decisions. It finds that people think automatically, socially and with mental models which are drawn from social networks, norms and shared history and society.

The goal is to integrate these findings into policy making and practice and make them available for systemic use by organizations and professional staff working in diverse countries and communities. The findings apply both to these professionals and to individuals in developing countries.

Commins said there has been huge international interest in the report. His role is to bridge the gap between the external audience and authors. He does this by managing events with professionals and government officials around the world to discuss the report’s main ideas and helping them think through what it means for practice and implementing policies in different countries.

Commins also worked with the report’s authors to discuss key issues and think about the larger puzzles with a small group of experts on the subjects. Since he was not an author himself, Commins played the role of a neutral party to give suggestions about what could be improved, what ideas to include. He had the most input in the health, development professionals and policy implementation chapters.

“With any author, they can get tied into the subject and not think about who’s going to use it. I tried to think about the external audience and how to make the report easier to implement,” he said.

Commins said he particularly enjoyed the subject of the behavior of development professionals and that it was a critical chapter.

“It would be easy to read the report and say poor people have certain behaviors or are limited in perspective, but the flipside is that actually everyone has limited perspectives and bias,” he said. “How academic and development professionals look at their work and how they criticize themselves is important as well.”

Commins is also the associate director of Global Public Affairs at UCLA Luskin, which addresses problems and processes of global public affairs through teaching, research, and partnerships and offers preparation for students seeking international careers.

He said the world report can help students in GPA to prepare to become insightful and competent professionals by helping them learn how to ask good questions, be self critical and understand the culture and context of their work.


Lewis Center Hosts Talk on Policy Implications of Ridesharing with Lyft


By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin student writer 

On Dec. 8, the Lewis Center hosted a presentation about ridesharing transportation services based on smartphone technology and “access over ownership.” The Center invited Emily Castor, the director of Community Relations at Lyft, to speak about implications for policy and planning as these services begin to increase in density.

Over the last 2.5 years, Lyft has provided over 10 million rides and has affected mobility in several ways. Castor said these services can promote a car-free lifestyle and provide transportation options in underserved areas.

Despite some ideas that Lyft is only available in high socioeconomic neighborhoods, Castor discussed the different ride sharing features Lyft offers and its reliability different areas regardless of socioeconomic profile.

She also provided insight into the new industry’s development and how it will impact consumer behavior. For instance, people’s sensitivity to price presents the potential for systems that allow people going the same direction to share a ride. Adopting this feature in high density areas can reduce the cost for consumers up to 60% and benefit drivers who earn more per ride, she said. These features, such as the Lyft Line system, have already launched in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“The more people adopt this service, the better match rates customers get,” Castor said.

Though these services and features have much potential for mobility in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, there are questions remaining about successfully implementing and evolving them. For instance, Lyft’s upcoming launch of incidental carpooling will allow drivers to filter customers to focus on the driver’s designation. However, it is likely this would work best when there are events happening in the area.

“For carpooling to be mainstream, it needs to be flexible, reliable, quick, trustworthy and lucrative,” she said.

Public Policy student Begoña Guereca contributed to this report.


New York & California Incent Climate Change Innovation Differently DeShazo mediates discussion on climate change incentives in California and New York.

On October 6, Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance at the New York State Office of the Governor, and Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board, spoke with Dr. J.R. DeShazo of UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs and Luskin Center for Innovation at the GloSho 2014 opening plenary titled, “Fireside Chat: Two Clean Economy Titans.” MIR presents edited excerpts from the conversation, focused on the public sector’s catalyzing role for innovation in both the California and New York clean-technology private sector. Reprinted from The Planning Report. 

J.R. DeShazo: What are the policy rollouts that are most important for private sector participation, in order to achieve climate change policy goals?

Mary Nichols: If there is one criticism I would make about our metrics in California, which I usually brag about, it is that we’re doing too much—not that we’re doing too little.

It’s hard for people to understand which proceedings they should participate in, where to go, and which agency to talk to. They’re all doing interesting and important things in many different sectors. We’re trying to address that issue in this administration through the work of the four energy agencies. It is amazing that, thanks to AB 32, the Air Resources Board is now considered an energy agency—even though for years we were doing work that had an impact on energy but were not ever considered to be leading in that space.

I think those working in California for a long time have just gotten used to the fact that we’ve got the PUC, the Energy Commission, the Air Resources Board, and the ISO all involved, spending money, passing regulations, and coming out with policies. Every one of these agencies and all of the programs that we have, going back to the Pavley Standards and the first carbon registry in California, are now clearly coming together under the umbrella of climate change. We obviously want to—and must—keep the lights on. Of course, it needs to be affordable. Everyone is in agreement that by 2050, around 80 percent of all carbon and GHG emissions have got to be out of our economy. That is going to take a very big effort. Starting now, we have to find ways to get ourselves there.

Richard Kauffman: I’ve been in the private sector and I know quite a bit about markets. I’ve been a clean-tech investor, so I know that the issues are less about technology, although we certainly need more innovation in technology. But there are plenty of good technology solutions.

The real problem is that there are tons of market constraints and market failures that prevent solutions from coming to life.
Generally, the energy sector is the most mature sector in the economy. It enjoys tremendous scale advantages. The utility industry is regulated, and in many cases, some fundamental regulations have not changed since the time of Edison. Understandably, there is a degree of conservatism about energy and electricity. We want lights to keep going and we want it to be safe. There are lots of issues that are appropriately conservative, but we have to get close and careful to see where the market barriers are.

We also have to do the same thing with government policy. Sometimes when we give grants, the grants don’t lead to new markets or businesses. The government becomes the market.

In New York, we’re trying to have a heavily market-led approach. In terms of our utility sector, we want to change the utility incentives so they are focused on having higher capacity utilization. Right now, the utility sector has 55 percent capacity utilization. How many industries that are capital intensive have 55 percent capacity utilization? None.

There has been a revolution in the last 20-30 years about different business models, adaption technology, and changes in financial incentives, but they have not yet come to the electric utilities sector. That’s because the regulatory incentives haven’t changed. We pay utilities, and the way they get their profits is through getting a regulated return on capital. We can’t be surprised that we have low capacity utilization. We should think about the utilities as getting paid for efficiency, and we stimulate third party app providers to create competitive markets around customers.

You need to draw in innovation to the end market and build the system from the customers-out as opposed to being a push model. With respect to government policy, I’ll give you one example: our residential energy-efficiency program. 70 percent of the houses in New York State are more than 70 years old, so there is a lot of opportunity to get energy efficiency from houses. We have a grant for somebody to do a residential audit, so residents don’t pay for that—ratepayers do. You can get a grant for up to 20 percent of the cost for the retrofit depending on your income. At the current rate of penetration of those programs, it will take 1,000 years.

We’ve got to change government policy and programs so they can stimulate the market. The way to do that is to think about community aggregation. We want to focus the grants on the reduction of soft costs, and customer acquisition and financing costs rather than being the only source of their financing and support.

Audience Question: As Chairman Kauffman mentioned, New York’s new energy vision has utilities rewarded more based on performance. Do you see California taking a similar approach?

Mary Nichols: That’s been the philosophy for quite a long time. Our overall policy has been to separate the ability of utilities to make money from the fact that they need to provide energy-efficiency services.

California has been the first state—now fortunately joined by many others—to separate the ability of utilities to get real return from the amount of sales of their product and pay them for energy-efficiency programs. That’s been probably the most fundamental change that we’ve made from early on.

The directive is to the utilities, but also there is a financial incentive built into it. We are leading in terms of work that we get in our economy and our homes out of kilowatt hours of electricity. We are extremely energy efficient. But there is still a long way to go. There is no question that we need to develop some new and more effective ways of delivering retrofits of existing buildings and such, as Chairman Kauffman was talking about.

The key thing here is that the electric utilities themselves are not the only providers of these services. The market must make it possible for others to function effectively in that space—especially when some utilities are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission and others are regulated by their local governing boards. The legislature has been struggling with this for a while, in terms of how they can set the right kinds of standards that will get the market to work better and get regulations to not be an impediment, but a better inducement.

We’ve gotten a lot better in the transportation sector. The larger share of energy that we use in California goes to moving ourselves and stuff around our state, and the biggest sector of our economy is moving goods around.

We need to think more broadly about the relationship between electricity and natural gas as providers of electricity and providers of transportation. That’s where a lot of the new thinking is going on right now—how to make that crossover work.

J.R. DeShazo: For those unfamiliar, the chairwoman was referring to a decoupling policy adopted in the early ’80s by the CPUC.

Richard Kauffman: I am immensely respectful of all the things that the chairwoman has said. The great thing about states, as Brandeis said, is that they are laboratories of democracy. It’s fantastic that states have been experimenting with things. California has been a leader.

We have decoupling in New York, and what we’re talking about is going beyond California. The issue with decoupling is that it makes utilities indifferent as to the quantity of electricity their customers consume. It doesn’t create a proactive incentive for system efficiency or for things that relate, as Chairwoman Nichols said, to what is going on around customers.

New technology is providing opportunities to think about what it means to be a utility in terms of monopoly. The whole concept of a monopoly depends on the collective being cheaper than the individual. But if the technology changes so that the individual becomes cheaper than the collective, the logic begins to break down.

In Brooklyn, which is growing very rapidly, ConEd the utility would have spent $1 billion for a new substation—which would add about 55-57 percent capacity utilization, built for the hottest few hours or days of the year. That’s a lot of money paid for by all ratepayers, in terms of rates and power costs, which are very high in New York State in the summer and, increasingly, in the winter.

The alternative, which is now going to happen, is that instead of that $1 billion investment, they will be providing power through distributed generation using natural gas, solar, and demand-response energy-efficiency measures. That will cost ratepayers less and will result in a cleaner, cheaper system.

The way it’s being implemented is interesting: Utilities released enough data so that they’re getting all kinds of innovation from the market about how to solve this problem. We’re going to create competitive markets around customers. We’re going to free up data and let a whole variety of service providers come in with a whole variety of solutions that are going to help the utility become more efficient, but also help provide more choices and variety to customers.

Audience Question: What is the onramp for entrepreneurial technology companies that wish to deal with utilities in California?

Mary Nichols: To pick up on what Richard was saying, it’s not going to come from the utilities themselves, clearly. Government policy does play a critical role here in enabling the implementation of new technologies.

I think the source of innovation about financing and providing energy services is coming through the ISO. It is creating new markets for services other than plugging new plants into the system and getting power purchase agreements through the utilities. They are partnering with the Public Utilities Commission and the Energy Commission, in terms of allowing for other ways of services provision and other ways of demonstrating that the lights will stay on.

I completely agree that the solution for the longer term is not just about building more plants. We’re actually dealing now with the issue of what to do when there is an oversupply of electricity at certain times of the day and the year. That’s a small issue now but is going to be a much bigger one in the years to come, as we bring online more solar, wind, geothermal, and other facilities.

Instead of being worried about whether there will be enough to serve the demand at peak times, we are now worried about shedding load, which is a waste and a bad thing to do from an economic perspective. We’re thinking about how to make sure those electrons are being stored and used appropriately.

From the state’s perspective, we’re trying to responsibly look at the whole system and allow it to balance itself in the most efficient possible way.

J.R. DeShazo: I would add—because it’s sort of taken for granted in Chairwoman Nichols’s remarks—that if you’re a utility today in California, you have a set of push and pull factors. The push factors are the RPS and other state legislative requirements. The pull factor is the cap-and-trade program, which is changing the price of your kilowatt-hours as a function of the carbon content. Those incentives are acting actively now in California.

Richard Kauffman: I would add that when we’re thinking about clean-tech, we have to allow for the possibility that not everybody is motivated by saving the planet or saving money on electricity. When Edison helped set up the electricity system, he thought it was only going to be about lighting. Even in his own lifetime, he saw it become much more than just lighting.

I think the technology you guys are all developing provides a lot more value potentially for the electricity system than we have today. Nobody gets up and says, “I want to make more electricity.” It’s what the electricity system provides in terms of value.

I talk to healthcare companies that say, “We want to improve the quality of home health care and reduce costs by at-home health care monitoring. That’s going to require a home automation system.” Apple wants to provide more entertainment through a home automating system. The drivers for a new electricity system could be convenience, comfort, and health. That has potential for a much more energy-efficient system, but the driver may be other things than just saving money.  That’s why it’s so important to get innovation in the market.

Audience Question: Chairman Kauffman, I want to thank you and NYSERDA for funding a grant that my company seeded in early 2000 to study a hybrid biogas wind program for Wyoming County. Now, we’re faced with those issues in the Central Valley—yet, we have not seen the whole commercialization of biogas to reduce methane, to reduce NOx precursors, and the associated water issues. What are your agencies doing to promote those solutions?

Richard Kauffman: I think you have identified a classic problem of how we need to evolve our government policy. These projects would be supported by a grant here or there. It’s not really creating a market. I’m not saying that grants or incentives may not be necessary, but is that the only mechanism that we’re going to use?

We’re working in this area to make sure that the projects are really local. Is the cost for the developer and the customer acquisition cost really high? If you lower the developer cost, you’re going to get more projects done.

How do you lower the development cost? One way is to identify if projects are located next to something else—and whether the gas or electricity could be useful to the rest of the system. Let’s develop projects where it’s going to be better for the system.

How can we get local communities or governments involved in this, where there are opportunities for them to save money? Right now, each local government has to figure it out on its own. Is there a way to create a mechanism where there are off-the-shelf solutions that local governments can use? Government can do things like convening, which doesn’t cost a lot of money.

Another example is financing. Project financing is difficult for small projects. This isn’t about subsidized financing. We have a green bank that can do things like provide an aggregation facility for financing. These projects are just a few millions dollars—and it’s very hard to get a bank interested in that kind of money. But if the green bank can provide an aggregation facility, then you can actually provide the financing market for the private sector.

Mary Nichols: This is not in any way to dismiss the abstract of what you’re saying. But I want to focus on the practical problem of methane and dairies as a practical example of the range of issues involved and how the right mix of policies, regulations, and standards are necessary elements of the overall solution that will also drive investment.

We have dairies in the Central Valley of California that are located near each other. We’ve actually had dairy owners willing to volunteer to try to host digesters on their land.

We have a problem with nitrate in the water, and we have a problem of needing renewable natural gas. We have a problem of wanting to get methane out of the air. So we have all these reasons why we would like to make this system work.

We can set pipeline standards to get this stuff into the pipeline. We can promote the best technology that is now in the early stages.

We can’t make it economical for the dairy owner to truck the waste from the cows to a central location. The cows in the dairies are not located in a place where it’s convenient to put in some megafacility all in one place. We actually need to create, or have someone create, a company that would go out there and work to finance these things—aggregating a lot of these projects together. That would be the sensible market solution.

But until there is a sense that there is a long-term commitment to this—that there’s money out there to help finance it, there are regulatory tools in place, and targets that they’re going to meet (probably in terms of the nitrate standard for the underground water supply)—it’s not going to come together. Not to say that this isn’t the way it should go— just to say it’s going to take, still, a lot of work on the part of a lot of people to implement a solution that we all know is the right thing to do.

For more information see:


Latest Issue Of ACCESS Magazine Now Available; New Website Launched The magazine which translates academic research into readable prose is now available at


The Fall 2014 issue of ACCESS magazine is hot off of the press and now available to view at the brand-new ACCESS website, Here’s a taste of what you’ll find in the latest issue:

Phantom Trips

Adam Millard-Ball

When you see a new development being constructed, the first thing you might think is how much traffic it might bring to your neighborhood. (Well, that and will there be a good coffee shop there.) You may not be aware that developers pay more in costs based on the estimated number of new trips their developments create. But when that new coffee shop gets put into your neighborhood, how many new trips are really created?

Trip Generation for Smart Growth Projects

Robert J. Schneider, Susan L. Handy, and Kevan Shafizadeh

Developers must evaluate how much a new project will add to local traffic levels. If deemed necessary, developers must then invest in substantial capacity-adding projects, which can make some infill projects financially infeasible. But how much new vehicle traffic are developments creating, especially in smart growth areas?

Pounds that Kill

Michael L. Anderson and Maximilian Auffhammer

When you buy a car, you may not be thinking of the effect you have on other people. But more and more, we see that there are public costs to private choices. Your car may produce more pollution than another car, thus leading to an environmental impact affecting others. But what about the weight of your car? How does that affect others?

Fuel-Efficiency Standards: Are Greener Cars Safer?

Mark Jacobsen

The United States has strengthened its fuel efficiency regulations several times in recent years in an effort to reduce environmental, economic, and energy costs. These standards have led to an in increase fuel efficiency by manufacturing lighter, lower-horsepower vehicles. But are these new fuel-efficient vehicles safe?

An Innovative Path to Sustainable Transportation

Dan Sperling

At one time, it looked as though humanity might go on a greenhouse gas (GHG) diet simply by running out of fossil fuels. But due to new and improved technologies for finding and extracting oil, including extraction techniques like fracking and horizontal drilling, we are far from running out of oil. So how do we cut back on GHG levels, and the environmental impact they have, if we’re not running out of oil?

THE ACCESS ALMANAC: Making Parking Meters Popular

Donald Shoup

When it comes to making a list of things people are excited about, parking meters are not just near the bottom, they’re not on the list. So how can government officials gain local support for parking meters? Donald Shoup’s answer: grant parking discounts to residents.