La Follette School professor Gregory Nemet is one of eight university faculty members to receive the prestigious Romnes Faculty Fellowship.
Nemet is an associate professor of public affairs and environmental studies who studies energy, environmental and technology policy. "My research falls into three areas," Nemet says. "I use empirical analysis to identify influences on technological change. I model the effects of public policy on technological outcomes, and I examine the relationships between incentives and international governance related to energy. "
Understanding the confluence of technology and public policy is at the core of Nemet's research. In one project, he is exploring why the prices of solar systems are so different across the United States.
"Prices have dropped dramatically, by a factor of 100 since the technology was first commercialized in the 1970s and by half in just the past two years." Nemet says. "But in looking simply at prices paid today, it is remarkable how much of a better deal some consumers are getting compared to others – for the exact same good, electricity. This current work is trying to understand why this apparent price dispersion exists, whether it is changing, and to what extent public policy might be needed. For example, there may be a role for government in providing better information about purchasing choices to potential consumers, since, for some reasons, markets appear to not be providing this information very effectively."
In other work, he is looking at the effect of policy credibility on incentives for long term investments, such as those affecting climate change and energy. A look at the past 40 years of U.S. energy policy provides ample evidence of volatility, including rapidly changing budgets, moving targets and shifting incentives, Nemet notes. "Changing policy to address energy concerns has its pros and cons. It can incorporate new information, but also can generate incentive-weakening uncertainty."
"Gregory Nemet is a top-notch scholar whose work has shaped the research agenda on the relationship between public policy and energy technology," says La Follette School Director Susan Yackee. "He is a prolific researcher whose work has appeared in the best journals in his field. Our students benefit immensely from his expert mentoring and teaching. He is thus a most worthy recipient of the Romnes Faculty Fellowship, and he will make good use of it to accelerate the new projects he is adding to his research portfolio."
Romnes awards recognize exceptional faculty members who have earned tenure within the last six years. Selected by a Graduate School committee, winners receive an unrestricted $50,000 award for research, supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The award is named for the late H.I. Romnes, former chairman of the board of AT&T and former president of the WARF Board of Trustees.