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Certificate Graduates


Kristin Lukins, Economics
The Effect of Government Incentives on Consumption of Alternative Fuel Vehicles in the United States

This work analyzed the effectiveness of incentives, including tax rebates, tax exemptions, and other perks (HOV lane access, reserved parking, etc.) to drive consumption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the United States, focusing on 22 models of PHEVs and BEVs between 2010 and 2014. This analysis compares various incentive schemes offered by federal, state, and local governments to identify which types of incentives encourage adoption of alternative fuel vehicles most effectively. Using fixed-effects panel regressions, state tax rebates were found to be the most effective rebates, and HOV lane access was found to be ineffective. Information about incentives for solar energy technology adoption was incorporated in my analysis, and these results can be applied to create incentive schemes that promote adoption of future energy technologies.


Ryan Fauber, Near Eastern Studies
Examining American Values Rhetoric in Senate Foreign Relations Documents as a Function of Changing Energy Security Policy at the Moment of the 1973 Oil Crisis

This project focuses on American relations with Saudi Arabia at two moments in history: the 1973 oil crisis, and the present day. It seeks to explain changes in the way Saudi Arabia is referenced, condemned, supported, or called upon in speeches and publications of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The purpose of this study is to challenge the standing of “American Values Rhetoric” in these sources, which I argue are changeable in direct relation to the economic partnership between Saudi Arabia and the United States. During the 1973 oil crisis, did US politicians invoke “American Values” in condemnation of Saudi Arabia and, regardless of changes to certain aspects of the Saudi Arabian system of government, did those value judgments cease as relations improve? Finally, does the extremely important oil industry in Saudi Arabia shield it from “American Values Rhetoric” in ways that other countries in the region are not, for example Iran?

Sharon Gao, Economics
Shedding Light on the Equity vs. Efficiency Debate: Distributional Impacts of Dynamic Residential Electricity Pricing

This analysis responds to equity questions about efficient marginal electricity price structures. Currently flat retail rates do not reflect variable generation costs, resulting in economic inefficiencies with electricity pricing. We use several data sets to assemble nationally representative, household level, hourly consumption data in order to model three counterfactuals for alternative residential rate structures. Counterfactual 1 models a standard two-part tariff using average wholesale costs, and finds that the average fixed-fee rises 5x, from $124 to $566, and the volumetric fee decreases from $1,176 to $744. 70% of households below the poverty line see an increase of $120 annually, while the “Very High Income” quintile pays $220 less annually. Counterfactual 2 varies the hourly peak and off peak prices, but finds that results do not differ significantly from the first counterfactual. Counterfactual 3 uses a quasi-linear utility function where the loglinear component has constant elasticity of substitution in order to estimate new hourly electricity consumptions, and finds that low income households pay $198 more annually and high income households $260 less. Closer examination reveals that low income households also use more electricity, and the utility they gain partially offsets their bill change. Overall, this analysis is well poised in the face of technological innovations that enable the move to real-time electricity pricing. Further research in the area could lead to significant policy implications and distributive corrections for our increasingly energy-constrained world.

Theresa Meyer, Computer Science
Getting Greener: Graphical Display for Princeton University Campus Energy Awareness

This project utilized energy data provided by Princeton University’s Building Services to build a database for use by future developers to raise awareness of campus energy usage. The ultimate goal of this independent project was to make the data available in a way such that developers could create tools that will ultimately inspire behavioral change in the people who view them. This was done by making the energy data collected (1) accessible, (2) readable, and (3) interactive. The results of this project are promising. An energy database was successfully built to gather the data provided by Princeton University’s Building Services and real-time data are collected every hour as this paper is being read. The data were then used to display current electricity usage online in several different formats. Completion of this project brings Princeton University one step closer to installing a unified Energy Information System (EIS). The analysis that can be done on the collected data is endless, and now that the data exist in an easy-to-access fashion in several different formats, developers can use creativity to implement engaging energy tools. The impact of a successfully and effectively implemented EIS has great potential to reduce electricity usage throughout Princeton University.

Saumya Singh, Operations Research and Financial Engineering
Princetonian Electricity: Managing an Isolated Microgrid

Microgrids, distributed energy generation and storage systems, are radically changing the status quo in electricity generation. An isolated microgrid is one that is permanently disconnected from the larger power grid due to technical, economic or efficiency constraints. Isolated microgrids enable provision of electricity in remote areas that currently have no access to the electrical state grid. However, energy management of an isolated microgrid poses challenges of efficiency and reliability. This thesis adopts an approximate dynamic programming approach to mathematically model energy management of an isolated microgrid, using Princeton University’s microgrid as a case study. It simulates a hypothetical environment where Princeton University generates all of its own electricity using its existing resources and additional dispatchable generation and/or a battery. Adding dispatchable generation generally decreases demand shortage and percentage of outages. Increasing dispatchable generation also decreases the size of battery required for the microgrid. Due to the marginal increase in levelized cost of energy generation but far greater reliability benefits, it is always preferable to include both a battery and a dispatchable generator to the setup. The cost-preferred technology setup, with an additional 14MW in dispatchable generation and a 0.71MWh battery, has a net present cost in the range of $55milion to $85million and a levelized cost of approximately $70.3/MWh. This thesis illustrates that it is feasible to reliably operate Princeton University as an isolated microgrid given some additional dispatchable generation and a battery of storage capacity in the range of 330kWh to 880kWh.


Margaret Bertasi, History
Fog, Fog, Fog, and Smoke: The Environmental Effects and Societal Change from Coal Use in 19th Century Britain

This project is an analysis of how the environmental changes that were brought about from coal use aided in the development of society as environmental awareness increased. It approaches the topic chronologically and outlines the changing attitude towards coal as an energy source and the early beginnings of the environmental movement that would begin in the 20th century.