Centers | EMIC

2012 Austin Electricity Conference

For the 2012 Conference on Climate Change and Electricity, we are planning to organize the discussion around four panels. Two panels will concern renewable electric generation:

  • Renewable portfolio standards as policy instruments for combating climate change
  • Challenges of integrating renewable power into the electric grid

The other panels will examine the effects of climate constraints on traditional electric generation fuels: one will focus on regulatory instruments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions(taxes, marketable permits, etc.) and the other will consider traditional fuels in a carbon-constrained future. Find more information on the Austin Electricity Conference, which includes past conferences.

 Click here for an overview of Austin Electricity Conference 2012.



All events take place at the AT&T Center, 1900 University Avenue, Austin, Texas 78705

Conference Agenda

Wednesday, April 4, 2012: 

8:30-9:30 a.m. Registration and Breakfast
9:30-9:45 a.m. Introduction and Conference Overview
9:45-12:15 p.m.

Renewable Portfolio Standards as Policy Instruments for Combating Climate Change

10:45-11:00 a.m. Coffee Break
12:15-1:45 p.m. Lunch with Keynote Speaker
1:45-4:15 p.m.

The Challenges of Integrating Renewable Power into the Electric Grid

2:45-3:00 p.m. Coffee Break 
4:45-6:00 p.m.

Networking Reception with Drinks & Appetizers at the Blanton Annex

6:00-7:30 p.m.

CleanTX Forum Panel Discussion on Water at the Blanton Art Museum's Auditorium

Thursday, April 5, 2012:
8:00-9:00 a.m. Breakfast 
9:00-11:30 a.m.

Policy Instruments for Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

10:00-10:15 a.m. Coffee Break 
11:30-1:00 p.m. Lunch with Keynote Speaker
1:00-3:30 p.m.

Traditional Fuels in Climate Constrained World

2:00-2:15 p.m. Coffee Break 
3:30-4:00 p.m. Facilitated Discussion on Research Priorities and Opportunities


Renewable Portfolio Standards as Policy Instruments for Combating Climate Change

More than 30 states now have some form of renewable portfolio standard aimed at stimulating development of renewable electricity. Some of these state RPS's are more stringent than others. Do they really drive investment in renewable power? If so, why? If not, why not? How effective are state RPS as tools for combating climate change (as compared to other ways of reducing carbon emissions)? Should we have a federal RPS?
Moderator: Prof. David Spence, UT

The Challenges of Integrating Renewable Power into the Electric Grid

As we build more and more utility-scale wind and solar generation, what challenges does renewable power pose for the operators of the electric grid? How should regulators, ISOs/RTOs, and grid companies respond to those challenges? What are the technical, pricing, and policy implications of integrating intermittent sources of power (like wind turbines) into the electric grid?
Moderator: Prof. Ross Baldick, Cockrell School of Engineering, UT

Policy Instruments for Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

With the failure of national greenhouse gas emission regulation in Congress, attention has turned to the states and the EPA as regulators of GHG emissions. The EPA's proceeding with traditional regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from large, new sources; meanwhile, California and northeastern states have been experimenting with other forms of greenhouse gas emission regulation, including cap and trade regulation. Based on our experiences to date, which policy instruments for controlling GHG emissions are most/least effective ? What about emissions taxes, favor by economists, but little used in the United States? What are the other pros and cons of each instrument – economically, politically, and otherwise?
Moderator: Prof. Varun Rai, LBJ School of Public Affairs, UT

Traditional Fuels in Climate Constrained World

By all accounts, most of the world's industrialized democracies will continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels to generate electricity for the foreseeable future, and nuclear power will continue to play a significant role for some countries. How will these technologies fair in a carbon constrained future? What are the technical, economic and policy issues that will determine the future of these electric generation technologies?
Moderator: David Adelman, UT School of Law

Keynote Speakers

Al Armendariz headshot

Al Armendariz

Al Armendariz was appointed by President Obama on November 5, 2009, as the Regional Administrator for EPA’s Region 6 office in Dallas. He is responsible for managing Agency activities in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and 66 tribal nations, under the direction of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
Dr. Armendariz has brought a deep commitment to environmental issues to his work at EPA. He has made working with communities a priority across the Region, frequently engaging directly with those most vulnerable to harm from polluters. This was especially evident during the Agency's response to 2010's Gulf of Mexico oil spill, during which he worked tirelessly with area residents, local governments, and community groups. As he continues his tenure, he brings the same passion to the Region's work on air quality, wetlands protection, climate change and other environmental goals.

Prior to his appointment, he spent eight years as a professor in the Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he received several faculty awards. For the past 15 years, Dr. Armendariz has worked in a variety of research and academic positions including, for a short time in 2002, in the Region 6 offices.
Before joining SMU, he was a chemical engineer with Radian Corporation in North Carolina. During and after college he worked as a research assistant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Global Change Science at its Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory in Massachusetts.

Throughout his career, Dr. Armendariz has spent countless hours volunteering his time with several environmental groups and the Volunteer Center for North Texas. Through this work he has helped address a number of complex environmental and public health challenges, ranging from solid waste landfills to community and tribal priorities.

 Al is a third generation Texan, descended from Mexican and Mexican-American grandparents who settled in the border city of El Paso. Born and raised in El Paso, he graduated from Coronado High School in 1988. He has also lived in Houston, Albuquerque and New Orleans. Al currently lives in Dallas with his wife Cynthia, a public school teacher in Irving ISD, and two sons, Ferris and Simon


Dr. Armendariz received his doctorate in Environmental Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health where he was also selected as a Royster Society Fellow. He holds an M.E. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Florida. Al is a chemical engineer by training, with an undergraduate degree from MIT.

Jon Wellinghoff Head Shot

Jon Wellinghoff

 Jon Wellinghoff was named Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency that oversees wholesale electric transactions and interstate electric transmission and gas transportation in the United States, by President Barack Obama on March 19, 2009. A member of the Commission since 2006, the U.S. Senate reconfirmed him to a full, five-year FERC term in December 2007.

Chairman Wellinghoff is an energy law specialist with more than 34 years experience in the field. Before joining FERC, he was in private practice focusing exclusively on client matters related to renewable energy, energy efficiency and distributed generation. While in the private sector, Chairman Wellinghoff represented an array of clients from federal agencies, renewable developers, and large consumers of power, to energy efficient product manufacturers and clean energy advocacy organizations.

Chairman Wellinghoff was the primary author of the Nevada Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Act. The Nevada RPS is one of the two states to receive an “A” rating by the Union of Concerned Scientists. In addition, he worked with clients to develop renewable portfolio standards in six other states. The Chairman is considered an expert on the state renewable portfolio process and has lectured extensively on the subject in numerous forums including the Vermont Law School.

His experience also includes two terms as the State of Nevada’s first Consumer Advocate for Customers of Public Utilities. While serving in that role, Chairman Wellinghoff represented Nevada’s utility consumers before the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, the FERC, and in appeals before the Nevada Supreme Court. While Consumer Advocate, he authored the first comprehensive state utility integrated planning statute. That statute has become a model for utility integrated planning processes across the country.

Chairman Wellinghoff’s priorities at FERC include opening wholesale electric markets to renewable resources, providing a platform for participation of demand response and other distributed resources in wholesale electric markets including energy efficiency and local storage systems such as those in plug-in hybrid and all electric vehicles (PHEVs and EVs), and promoting greater efficiency in our nation’s energy infrastructure through the institution of advanced technologies and system integration. As Chairman he created FERC’s Office of Energy Policy and Innovation (OEPI), which is responsible for investigating and promoting new efficient technologies and practices in the energy sectors under FERC’s jurisdiction. Chairman Wellinghoff is co-chair of the Smart Response Collaborative launched jointly by FERC and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and is a member of NARUC’s Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment. He is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Institute for Electric Efficiency and served as an advisor to the Defense Science Board’s Energy Policy Task Force. He is also the Co-Chair of the Executive Leadership Team of the Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI) Green Transmission Efficiency Initiative. Chairman Wellinghoff also advises the Energy Foundation and the NRDC on China-U.S. energy policy matters. He was designated by the Obama Administration to be a Principal in the Joint U.S./China Strategic and Economic Dialog and recently returned from China where he participated in diplomatic discussions with China’s energy leaders including China’s Energy Minister, Zhang Guobao.


Antioch School of Law, Washington, D.C., JD, 1975 Howard University, Washington, D.C., M.A.T.,
Mathematics, 1972 University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, BS, Mathematics, 1971




Due to server error all presentation slides were lost and are irretrievable. We are sorry for any inconvenience this causes.  

Renewable Portfolio Standards as Policy Instruments for Combating Climate Change
Moderator: Prof. David Spence, UT

-Christopher Dann
-Lincoln Davies
-Guy Holburn
-Jim Rossi

The Challenges of Integrating Renewable Power into the Electric Grid
Moderator: Prof. Ross Baldick, Cockrell School of Engineering, UT

-Parviz Adib
-Rao Konidena
-David Maggio
-Colin Meehan  
-John Moore
-Mark Rothleder

Policy Instruments for Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Moderator: Prof. Varun Rai, LBJ School of Public Affairs, UT

-Denny Ellerman
-Daniel Farber
-Dan Lashof
-Brewster McCracken
-Elizabeth Wilson

Traditional Fuels in Climate Constrained World
Moderator: David Adelman, UT School of Law

-Gary Gibbs
-Monty Humble
-Alexandra Klass
-Caleb Stephenson
-Erin Mansur

Conference Organizers

Sponsorship and Meeting Coordinator

David Adelman
UT School of Law
(512) 232-0877

David Spence
Red McCombs School of Business
(512) 471-0778

Panel Moderators

Ross Baldick
Cockrell School of Engineering
(512) 471-5879

Varun Rai
Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs & Cockrell School of Engineering
(512) 471-5057

Michael Webber
Webber Energy Group & Cockrell School of Engineering
(512) 475-6867

Hotel and Logistics

Gena Dawson
Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law & UT School of Law
(512) 475-9328


Hotels with Room Blocks Available

AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center
1900 University Avenue, Austin, TX 78705
Phone: (512) 404-3600

 *from April 4-6, 2012 only

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotels
303 West 15th Street, Austin, TX 78701-1692
Phone: (512) 478-7000 
*from April 3-6, 2012

Additional Hotels without Room Blocks

 mansion at judges hill
Mansion at Judges Hill
1900 Rio Grande Street, Austin, TX 78705
Phone: (512) 495-1857 

Four Seasons Hotel
98 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin, Texas 78701
Phone: (512) 478-4500

Hilton Austin
500 East 4th Street, Austin, Texas 78701
Website: Click here
Phone: (512) 482-8000 


Hyatt Regency Austin
208 Barton Springs Road, Austin, Texas 78704
Phone: (512) 477-1234

Omni Hotel Austin
700 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin, Texas 78701
Phone: (512) 476-3700

The Stephen F. Austin Inter-continental Hotel
701 Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78701
Phone: (512) 457-8800


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Page last updated: 3/3/2014