An Accelerated Master’s Program in Resource and Energy Economics






  • Do you want to contribute to a sustainable future?
  • Do you believe in behavior-based solutions to our climate challenges?
  • Do you find “stories” in numbers?
  • Do you like to solve puzzles?  Explore new ways to think about problems?
  • Do you like to work as part of a team?
  • Do you need marketable skills to launch your career?


InformationWhat do you work on while in REDA

REDA curriculum at a glance — course outline


The UW-Madison REDA program, directed by Bill Provencher, may be a good match for you.

Justin Margolies

Justin Margolies

Kathleen Ward

Kathleen Ward

“I had been working at a solar installation company after graduating with a degree in international studies.  But I realized that while I understood the theory behind micro-economics, I did not really know how to put theory into action.  I found that the REDA program, with its accelerated path to a master’s, was a good fit for me.  This is a hands-on, take the data apart, look under the hood, and really understand what is going on inside the theory kind of program. We learn how to apply the theory to real applications.”  Justin Margolies, 3/16


“While working in an energy economics firm, I came to appreciate the incredible diversity of applications for both macro- and mirco-economics.  I was using quantitative tools but using them on faith that they were the right tool for the job.  Then I found REDA.  This is a professional program, geared towards developing an understanding of the quantitative tools needed for successful analytical careers.  You will acquire a number of economic analysis tools to add to your “toolkit” and learn how to apply them to solve real world problems.  It is a year-long, hands-on applied energy economics immersion course.  While intense, it is a very positive place to learn because everyone in the program wants to be there.  More to the point, we all want to know what is really happening inside the different models that are used for analysis.”  Kathleen Ward 3/16

Both students agree that “Dr. Provencher does not just provide random problems for us to solve.  He creates a whole story around the problem so we have context for the analysis and the solution.  He and his team take time to help us with our case work, making sure we do not spin our wheels on a troublesome problem.”

Supreme Court Ruling on Air Pollution Standards

WASHINGTON – In a major environmental victory for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate the smog-causing pollution from coal-fired power plants that wafts across state lines from 27 Midwestern and Appalachian states to the East Coast.

The 6-to-2 ruling upholds a centerpiece of what has become a signature of President Obama’s environmental agenda: a series of new Clean Air Act regulations aimed at cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants. Republicans and the coal industry have criticized the effort as a “war on coal.”


Regional transport of pollution (of any variety) is analogous to throwing your trash in your neighbor’s yard – there is no credible defense. Legal experts said the decision, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, signaled that the Obama administration’s efforts to use the Clean Air Act to fight global warming could also withstand legal challenges. The E.P.A. is expected to unveil in June a sweeping new climate change regulation, using the authority of the Clean Air Act to rein in carbon pollution from coal plants.

The regulations covering cross-state air pollution, known as “good neighbor” rules, have pitted Rust Belt and Appalachian states like Ohio and Kentucky against East Coast states like New York and Connecticut.

In its arguments before the court, the E.P.A. said the rules were necessary to protect the health and the environment of downwind states. East Coast states in particular are vulnerable to pollution blown by the prevailing winds of the United States.

In her decision, Justice Ginsburg noted that in reining in interstate pollution, regulators must account for the vagaries of the wind. “Some pollutants stay within upwind states’ borders, the wind carries others to downwind states, and some subset of that group drifts to states without air quality problems,” she wrote, adding a biblical quotation from the Book of John: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.”

The utilities and 15 states on the other side of the issue argued that the rules, as written by the Obama administration’s environmental regulators, gave the E.P.A. too much authority and placed an unfair economic burden on the polluting states.

In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, suggested that the regulation was Marxist and unwieldy. As written, the regulation will require upwind polluting states to cut pollution in relation to the amounts of pollution each state produces, but also as a proportion of how affordably a state can make the cuts. In other words, states that are able to more cost-effectively reduce pollution will be required to cut more of it.


“I fully acknowledge that the proportional-reduction approach will demand some complicated computations where one upwind state is linked to multiple downwind states and vice versa,” Justice Scalia wrote. “I am confident, however, that E.P.A.’s skilled number-crunchers can adhere to the statute’s quantitative (rather than efficiency) mandate by crafting quantitative solutions. Indeed, those calculations can be performed at the desk, whereas the ‘from each according to its ability’ approach requires the unwieldy field examination of many pollution-producing sources with many sorts of equipment,” he said, quoting Karl Marx’s “The Communist Manifesto.”

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. recused himself from the case.

Shift in Lighting Technologies to Dim Energy Use by End of Decade

A fundamental paradigm shift in lighting technologies toward more efficient lamps and bulbs will significantly reduce global electricity demand for general illumination in the next few years, according to IHS Technology (NYSE: IHS).
The energy usage of the installed base of lighting technologies for general illumination will fall to a projected 2.75 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) by 2020, down a notable 24 percent from 3.61 trillion kWh last year. Overall, the installed base for general lighting—which covers homes, businesses and street lamps but not architectural or theatrical lighting—will account for 10.3 percent of the net electricity generated in 2020, down from 16.4 percent in 2013, as shown in the figure below.

Electricity usage will decline even as the number of lamps increases. The global installed base of lamps is projected to rise to 59.3 billion units in 2020, up from 56.4 billion in 2013.
“The fall in electricity consumed by lighting is being driven by the systematic ban of inefficient—mainly incandescent—lamps and bulbs in countries across the world,” said William Rhodes, lighting research manager for IHS. “As these bans start to kick in, consumers and business owners will be replacing their lamps with more energy-efficient technologies, such as light-emitting diode (LED) alternatives.”
Even so, consumers are not currently flocking to LED in great numbers because of the relatively high pricing involved, Rhodes noted. Instead, shoppers are opting for cheaper options like compact fluorescents (CFL) or halogen lamps.
Most CFL lamps, for instance, consume just 25 percent of the electricity used by an equivalent incandescent lamp but are 87 percent cheaper on average. As a result, CFL lamps provide a suitable energy-saving alternative to consumers without a significant price premium.
For their part, halogen lamps have a similar cost and light compared to incandescent but also consume less electricity, making halogens suitable options as well for consumers in the short to long term.
As pricing falls for LED lamps and bulbs toward the end of this decade, consumers and business owners can be expected to start replacing incandescent, CFL, halogen and other lighting technologies with LED alternatives, even though cost will remain an inhibitor for many years. This will be the case despite average electricity savings of 85 percent for LEDs, Rhodes said.
One factor could reduce the potential savings to be gained. LED’s flexibility could make it more attractive for decorative and architectural applications, including new design possibilities such as under-counter lighting in kitchens or kickboard lighting close to the floor.
Such a shift toward LED decorative lighting could offset some of the energy savings gained by replacing incandescent lamps with LEDs in the first place, Rhodes said in his analysis.

Nuclear Blue Ribbon Panel Recommendations

America’s nuclear waste management program is at an impasse. The approach laid out under the 1987 Amendments to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA)—which tied the entire U.S. highlevel waste management program to the fate of the Yucca Mountain site—has not worked to produce a timely solution for dealing with the nation’s most hazardous radioactive materials. The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (the Commission) was chartered to recommend a new strategy for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. Doing nothing is not an option. Continued stalemate is costly—to utility ratepayers, to communities that have become unwilling hosts of long-term nuclear waste storage facilities, and to U.S. taxpayers who face mounting liabilities, already running into billions of dollars, as a result of the failure by both the executive and legislative branches to meet federal waste management commitments. The strategy that the BRC recommends has eight key elements:
1. A new, consent-based approach to siting future nuclear waste management facilities.
2. A new organization dedicated solely to implementing the waste management program and empowered with the authority and resources to succeed.
3. Access to the funds nuclear utility ratepayers are providing for the purpose of nuclear waste management.
4. Prompt efforts to develop one or more geologic disposal facilities.
5. Prompt efforts to develop one or more consolidated storage facilities.
6. Prompt efforts to prepare for the eventual large-scale transport of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste toconsolidated storage and disposal facilities when such
facilities become available.
7. Support for continued U.S. innovation in nuclear energy technology and for workforce development.
8. Active U.S. leadership in international efforts to address safety, waste management, non-proliferation, and security concerns.

The report also lists actions that can be taken without legislative action. The last chapter of the report (chapter 13) identifies a number of concrete next steps; and a text box on page ix of the Executive Summary lists several ways to get started on the specific task of siting new waste disposal and consolidated storage facilities.

For the complete report, please visit:

Fukushima Daiichi in Cold Shutdown

Update on Fukushima Daiichi-December 19, 2011

The Fukushima Daiichi reactors are in “a state of cold shutdown,” with temperatures at the bottom of the reactor pressure vessels and containment vessels stably below the boiling point and radiation levels at the plant boundary below 100 millirem per year. (By comparison, the average radiation level from all sources to U.S. citizens is about 400 millirem per year.) The announcement last Friday by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is a key milestone in the site’s recovery plan, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said on his first visit to the site since March.

What does “a state of cold shutdown” mean?  (From NEI’s Website)

In non-nuclear speak, it basically means the conditions within the nuclear reactor are such that it would be impossible for a chain reaction to occur. This term usually comes into play whenever a reactor is shut down periodically for refueling or for the final time prior to the long-term before it is decommissioned. When a reactor is in cold shutdown, the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) can be safely opened with great care and additional water is added to the cavity above the vessel for shielding to permit safe handling of the fuel for refueling (replacing depleted fuel elements) or defueling (removing the entire core).

In Fukushima Daiichi’s case, achieving the strict definition of “cold shutdown” is not possible because the RPVs have been breached. This means that the RPVs will not hold water (currently the cooling water is flowing through them) and some of the melted fuel may not be in the vessel, but rather on the floor below, which is still within the primary containment. To clean up the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant’s owner and operator, will work with the Japanese government and other parties to develop a long-term plan that will include removing the damaged fuel.

TEPCO understood this important nuance to achieving “cold shutdown” early on this year when it developed its initial recovery plans and developed a new term, “cold shutdown condition,” which applies to how they are bringing the reactors to stable condition. Their definition is as follows:

  • Temperature of RPV bottom is, in general, below 100 degrees Celsius.
  • Release of radioactive materials from PCV is under control and public radiation exposure by additional release is being significantly held down. (Not exceed 1 mSv/y at the site boundary as a target.)

By their definition, the Fukushima Daiichi reactors will reach “cold shutdown condition” once they are below boiling point and are no longer releasing significant amounts of radiation into the atmosphere. This new definition, thus, has an important distinction between the more commonly used “cold shutdown,” which typically takes place at a nuclear plant under normal conditions.

Reaching “cold shutdown conditions” at Fukushima Daiichi, however, has been an extremely difficult task for TEPCO workers given the conditions at the site and is a very significant milestone in their recovery efforts. TEPCO expects to reach this condition in just a few weeks by the end of 2011.