The Great Plains Institute

Energy Choice: The Great Plains Institute – Case Study

Energy Choice – Analysis of federal and state energy policies.

The Great Plains Institute (GPI) is a group of “energy diplomats,” working with regional, national, and international policy groups on energy and climate change.

With so much focus on energy policy at so many levels (state, regional, national, …), understanding how energy policies interact with each other is crucial to ensuring that a set of policies actually help achieve desired energy goals.

GPI needed an easy way to study the impacts of policy options on the Midwestern economy. The Midwest is a particularly diverse region from an energy standpoint. Different states often rely primarily on very different energy sources, for example, coal in Ohio and nuclear energy in Illinois. Additionally, some states are net energy importers, while others are net energy exporters.

And GPI needed to enable its clients – such as policy analysts from the Midwestern Governors Association – to independently study impacts of policy options and share the results of their analyses.

Forio worked with GPI, creating an online simulation tool to evaluate the interaction of a wide range of federal and state energy policies.

The underlying system dynamics model simulates the interaction of hundreds of different energy policies in the context of energy consumption baseline data from federal data sources and academic and industry research publications.

Analysts working with the tool start with an assumption or hypothesis, for example, that incentivizing the purchase of electric vehicles will decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

Then, they select some combination of hundreds of policies to implement, and review the results of different economic decisions and energy policies over a 30-50 year period. For example, they may be surprised to learn that electric vehicles reduce greenhouse gas emissions only if the electricity is not sourced primarily from coal.

Finally, analysts see the outputs of their experiments: in-depth analysis of various policy integrations on energy outcomes, greenhouse gas emissions, public revenues, and private spending. They can save each experiment or scenario and easily compare scenarios to each other.

The ability to experiment with various policies and assumptions allows analysts to see and understand both short-term and long-term effects of policy choices. Simulation users, such as policy analysts from the Midwestern Governors Association, have been able to effectively analyze policy and make policy proposals at both the state and federal levels.