Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Power lines in a city credit

Future of Utility Regulation

The U.S. electricity sector is undergoing rapid change wrought by low natural gas prices, falling costs for renewables, and evolving environmental standards. The sector is grappling with coal and nuclear plant retirements; grid reliability and resilience; integration of intermittent and distributed resources; customer demands for clean energy; and equitable access to new technology. Regulators have the power to shape or adapt to market trends, to make the changes work for our environment and our economies.

The Nicholas Institute analyzes the power sector landscape in traditionally regulated states and competitive markets, exploring policy alternatives and projecting how they will drive mid-century environmental and economic outcomes. From imagining a role for competition in the Southeastern electricity sector to proposing decarbonization strategies through competitive power markets, Nicholas Institute researchers provide thought leadership on the pressing issues of the day.  

Since early 2015, we have also hosted the Power Shift network with Harvard and UNC, engaging energy scholars in the conversation about the regulatory infrastructure needed to manage innovation. This network led to the launch of RTOGov in 2019, a major research initiative to evaluate how decisions are made in power markets and whether these governance processes encourage or stifle innovation.

Closer to home, the Nicholas Institute is deeply engaged in conversations about the future of utility regulation in North Carolina, the transformation and decarbonization of the power sector, and the deployment of energy efficiency and clean energy policies that can support the competitiveness of existing industry while opening the door to new opportunities.


PJM Interconnection

The PJM Interconnection is one of several Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) that coordinate the movement of wholesale electricity in the United States.

Power Shift Series

Power Shift connects expert communities—energy and environmental law scholars, utility regulators, technical analysts, and policymakers—around a legal vision for tomorrow’s grid.


RTOGov is a research initiative to evaluate how decisions are made in U.S. electricity markets and whether these governance processes impact real-world outcomes such as price, customer choice, air quality, and innovation.

Power Sector Competition in the Southeast

Stakeholders and policy makers in the Southeast are engaging in conversations to explore the role competition in the power sector could have in facilitating clean energy investment, encouraging innovation, and lowering costs for consumers.