Berkeley-Harvard-Yale Virtual Seminar Series


Berkeley-Harvard-Yale Virtual Seminar Series on the Economics of Climate Change and Energy Transition. 

Hosted by:

Robert Stavins & James Stock (Harvard University)

Maximillian Auffhammer & Catherine Wolfram (University of California, Berkeley)

Kenneth Gillingham & Matthew Kotchen (Yale University)

Time: 3:00 - 4:00 pm (U.S./Canada Eastern Time)

Location: Zoom links for Berkeley-Harvard-Yale Environmental Economics Seminars will be distributed by email. To be added to the distribution list, fill out this form.


February 3, 2021 - Nick Ryan, Yale University, "Holding Up Green Energy."

Participants need to be signed into their Zoom accounts to join the meeting.

Holding Up Green Energy
Green energy is produced by specific assets that are vulnerable to hold-up if contracts are not strictly enforced. I study the role of counterparty risk in the procurement of green energy using data on the universe of solar procurement auctions in India. The Indian context allows clean estimates of how risk affects procurement, because solar power plants set up in the same states, by the same firms, are procured in auctions variously intermediated by either states or the central government. I find that (i) the counterparty risk of an average state increases solar energy prices by 9% and (ii) central intermediation eliminates this risk premium. Higher prices due to risk will reduce investment when demand is elastic. I quantify this effect in a sample of auctions where buyers set explicit ceiling prices. The imposition of ceiling prices reduced capacity procured by 16%, and the quantity of foregone investment increases steeply in the degree of counterparty risk. The results suggest that the risk of hold-up places developing countries at a disadvantage in the procurement of green energy


February 17, 2021 - Lucas Davis, University of California, Berkeley, "What Matters for Electrification? Evidence from 70 Years of U.S. Home Heating Choices."

Lucas will present "What Matters for Electrification? Evidence from 70 Years of U.S. Home Heating Choices." The abstract is below, the full paper is available here, and a shorter summary of the paper is also available here.

Berkeley-Harvard-Yale EEE Seminar

Lucas Davis, Berkeley

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

12-1 PM Pacific/3-4 PM Eastern

Zoom link:

Participants need to be signed into their Zoom accounts to join the meeting.

What Matters for Electrification? Evidence from 70 Years of U.S. Home Heating Choices

The percentage of U.S. homes heated with electricity has increased steadily from 1% in 1950, to 8% in 1970, to 26% in 1990, to 39% in 2018. This paper investigates the key determinants of this increase in electrification using data on heating choices from millions of U.S. households over a 70-year period. Energy prices, geography, climate, housing characteristics, and household income are shown to collectively explain 90% of the increase, with changing energy prices by far the most important single factor. This framework is then used to calculate the economic cost of an electrification mandate for new homes. Households in warm states are close to indifferent between electric and natural gas heating, so would be made worse off by less than $500 annually. Household in cold states, however, tend to strongly prefer natural gas so would be made worse off by $3000+ annually. These findings are directly relevant to a growing number of policies aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions through electrification, and underscore the importance of pricing energy efficiently.


February 24, 2021 - Matthew Kotchen, Yale University, "The Producers Benefits of Fossil Fuel Subsidies in the United States."

March 3, 2021 -  Todd Gerarden, Cornell University, (Title TBD)

March 17, 2021 - Karen Clay, Carnegie Mellon University, "Margins of Adjustment to the Clean Air Act: Evidence from the U.S. Power Sector from 1938-1994."

March 31, 2021 - Florian Grosset and Wolfram Schlenker, Columbia University, "Pushed to Cross the Line: Multiperiod Pollution Standards and the Cost of Environmental Regulations."

April 14, 2021 - Susanna Berkouwer and Joshua Dean, University of Pennsylvania, "Credit and Attention in the Adoption of Profitable Energy Efficient Technologies in Kenya."

April 28, 2021 - Namrata Kala, Massachusetts Institute of Technology - TBD

May 12, 2021 - Fiona Burlig, Louis Preonas, and Matt Woerman, University of Chicago, "Groundwater, Energy, and Crop Choice."


Fall 2020 Schedule

September 16, 2020 - Thomas Green and Chris Knittel: "Distributed Effects of Climate Policy: A Machine Learning Approach"

September 30, 2020 - Erica Myers: "Mandatory Energy Efficiency Disclosure in Housing Markets"

October 14, 2020 - Paul Gertler, Brett Green, and Catherine Wolfram: "Unlocking Access to Credit with Lockout Technology"

October 28, 2020 - Joe Shapiro and Reed Walker: "Is Air Pollution Regulation Too Stringent?"

November 11, 2020 - Clare Balboni: "In Harm's Way: Infrastructure Investments and the Persistence of Coastal Cities"

November 25, 2020 - Shanjun Li: "Government Subsidies and Product Choices: Evidence from China's Electric Vehicle Market"

December 9, 2020 - Arthur A. van Benthem: TBD


Spring 2020 Presenters

Past presenters are listed below, with links to recordings of their seminars.

Links to presentations are together at the bottom of the page.

Photo of Samuel Kortum
Samuel Kortum (Yale University)

April 15, 2020 - Samuel Kortum, Yale University, Michael Wang, Northwestern University, and David Weisbach, University of Chicago. “Optimal Unilateral Carbon Policy”

View a captioned recording of the seminar here.

Billy Pizer
Billy Pizer (Duke University)
Steve Cicala Photo
Steve Cicala (Tufts University)
Tamma Carleton
Tamma Carleton (University of Chicago)
Ken Gillingham photo
Kenneth Gillingham (Yale University)
Paige Weber Photo
Paige Weber (University of California, Santa Barbara)
April 15 - Kortum: "Optimal Unilateral Carbon Policy"1.7 MB
April 22 - Pizer: "Using Carbon Taxes to Meet an Emission Target"5.16 MB
April 29 - Cicala: "Advantageous Selection as a Policy Instrument: Unraveling Climate Change."359 KB
May 6 - Carleton: "Estimating a Social Cost of Carbon for Global Energy Consumption."7.55 MB
May 13 - Gillingham: "The Heterogeneous Value of Solar and Wind Energy: Empirical Evidence from the United States and Europe."791 KB
May 20 - Weber: "Dynamic Responses to Carbon Pricing in the Electricity Sector."664 KB
berkeley_harvard_yale_eee_seminar_fall2020schedule.pdf110 KB