Energy’s Leading Light

Prof. Severin Borenstein wins lifetime achievement award

Prof. Severin Borenstein

For his nearly 30 years researching and analyzing energy markets, Prof. Severin Borenstein was awarded the Outstanding Contributions to the Profession Award from the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE).

Borenstein, who led the U.C. Energy Institute beginning in 1994 and its successor organization, the Energy Institute at Haas, until 2014, when he stepped down, was credited not just for his work in energy economics, but for his insights into how markets of all types behave when it comes to competition and price discrimination.

Now a research associate with the Energy Institute, Borenstein has been heavily involved in California’s energy policy. As chair of the California Energy Commission’s Petroleum Market Advisory Committee, he is seeking to understand why the price of gas in California has been substantially higher than the national average. He also advised the California Air Resources Board on the implementation of the state’s cap-and-trade program, which took effect in 2013 and is aimed at leveraging market forces to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In 1997, Borenstein was appointed to the governing board of California’s Power Exchange, which oversaw the state’s wholesale electricity market, on the eve of deregulation.

For the last decade, Borenstein has worked extensively on climate change and the economics of restricting greenhouse gas emissions. Today, much of his research is focused on distributional impacts—specifically, ways to minimize the harm that climate change policies could have on the poor.