In California, the US, and the rest of the world, regulatory capability is becoming a significant bottleneck in the energy transition. Massive investments are being made in renewable energy, but relatively little effort is being devoted to ensuring that regulators have the knowledge and tools to manage the paradigm shift this involves. When most of our electricity came from large, central-station power plants, energy regulation was comparatively straightforward; now that we're staking our energy future on intermittent wind and solar resources, regulators need to ensure that dispatchable generators are always there to back them up. One need look no further than the August 2020 reliability event in California, the February 2021 reliability event in Texas, and the April/May 2022 reliability event in Australia to see how the current state of regulation is lagging the shift to a high-renewables paradigm.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is supporting a new initiative at FSI's Program on Energy and Sustainable Development (PESD) to educate energy regulators in the US and around the world about how to adapt regulation to a green future. This effort will combine game-based workshops, which we have conducted with a number of regulatory bodies including the California Public Utilities Commission and the Brazilian Electricity Regulatory Agency (ANEEL), with a new suite of self-directed, computer-based trainings on how electricity markets work and how regulation can keep pace with the energy transition. Upcoming game-based workshops are expected to focus on Texas, Australia, and Europe. The computer-based trainings will be available without charge to regulators anywhere around the world. Given the limited resources regulatory bodies typically have available to develop their institutional and technical capability, this project has the potential to fill a crucial gap and smooth the path to a green future.