Image text reads, "La Follette Forum: Climate Policy"

Utilities, Regulation & Electricity

Illustration of solar panels.

Varsity Hall III
10:15 – 11:30 a.m.  |  Breakout Session 1B

Climate change is increasingly central to regulating electricity and other utilities. Panelists offered views on state and local decisions on providing electricity.

Key Takeaways

  • Local involvement and land use issues are the key barriers in attempting to compel utilities to move to renewable energy sources. Without local citizens, activists, and politicians arguing and advocating for renewable energy sources, it is unlikely that utilities will make the moves themselves. Land use issues partially refer to the fact that when utilities switch energy sources, they need additional land to build storage, facilities, and generation stations.  
  • People are generally more supportive and accepting of cleaner technologies and cheaper infrastructure. However, people are generally neutral regarding pipelines and energy sources. In order to gain  support, citizens must believe that the technologies are leading to de-carbonization and are more affordable. These citizens also  need a seat at the table. 
  • The largest barrier to building renewable infrastructure and changing to new energy sources is the cost to consumers. Consumers do not want renewable energy sources if the price of the sources is higher than current sources (coal and gas). Building more transportation, more storage facilities, and more transmission lines will lower costs. 
  • Reliability is typically defined as an energy system’s everyday ability to avoid outages. Resilience includes an energy system’s ability to withstand storms and come back online after a major outage.


Rebecca Cameron Valcq

Chairperson, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

Sanya Carley

Paul H. O’Neill Professor, Indiana University

Jackson Keith

Director, Land & Liberty Coalition


Lauren Azar

Owner & Advisor, Azar Consulting, LLC