PhD Defense by Caroline Golin

Event Details
  • Date/Time:
    • Wednesday July 26, 2017
      3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
  • Location: DM Smith Building, 685 Cherry Street, Room 108
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Summary Sentence: Analyses of Innovations in Energy and Water Policy in Georgia

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 School of Public Policy

Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA 30332-0345


Doctoral Dissertation Defense




Caroline Golin


[Analyses of Innovations in Energy and Water Policy in Georgia]


July 26, 2017 3:00 pm

Georgia Tech School of Public Policy, DM Smith Building, 685 Cherry Street, Room 108


Committee members:


Valerie Thomas: Georgia Tech School of Industrial Systems Engineering and Public Policy

Marilyn Brown: Georgia Tech School of Public Policy

Bryan Norton: Georgia Tech School of Public Policy

Jennifer Clark: Georgia Tech School of Public Policy

Aris Georgakakos: Georgia Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering




This dissertation defense is open – all faculty members and students are invited to attend the examination and participate in the discussion.  For further information, contact the Graduate Programs Coordinator, Georgia Tech School of Public Policy at (404) 894-0417; email:  To obtain an abstract or copy of the dissertation, please contact Caroline Golin at




This dissertation investigates innovations in water and energy policy at multiple scales in Georgia - regional, state, and municipal. Through a combination of methods, the impacts, implications, and opportunities for each case study are evaluated.

The first case study investigates the institutional structures that support an innovation in regional water policy - the establishment of grassroots actors in large-scale, interstate water resource management - and assess which institutional structures are necessary for successful interstate water resource management through the eyes of active grassroots actors. A detailed case study on the Apalachicola Chattahoochee Flint Stakeholders Group was conducted. Methods include historical analysis, semi-structured interviews, and the development and evaluation of a survey instrument. The results were evaluated and compared against the prevailing literatures, including Ostrom’s eight principles for successful resource management among others. Results find support for the institutional elements of a compromised resource, mutual trust between stakeholders, an established network and policy entrepreneur, early engagement, and the need for scientific knowledge as present in the establishment of grassroots actors in the management of large-scale water resource management. Additionally, the research finds strong support for three of Ostrom’s eight principles of successful resource management as being critical to management of the ACF. To date this research is the first to explore the role of grassroots actors in interstate water resource management, and is the first study to test the validity of Ostrom’s eight principles in interstate river basin management.

The second case study is designed to explore an innovation in municipal energy policy - the growing role of centralized non-governmental organizations in the crafting and implementation of local energy policy goals. A framework to understand this evolving governance model - which I refer to as Public-Private Polycentricism - was developed. The framework was used to evaluate an example of public-private partnership in Atlanta, Ga - the City Energy Project (CEP). Semi-structured interviews with CEP participants were conducted to assess the motivations for municipalities to engage in a public-private partnership, the implications of a public-private partnership on local institutions as well as the role of the public. This research provides many contributions to the established policy literature on the role of non-governmental organizations in the policy process and provides insights into the innovations happening in municipal energy policy as well as an improved, contextual understanding to build on in future research. Specifically, the research advances the understanding of how national NGO’s are progressing policy agendas at the municipal level, explores the dynamics of the public-private polycentric framework and its implications on the role of public participation in the policy process.

The third case study examines the implications of a policy innovation in state energy policy - the establishment of a value of solar tariff (VOST) for the compensation of distributed solar photovoltaics. We develop and implement a value of solar analysis for distributed solar in the state of Georgia using public electricity generation and electricity demand data for the Georgia Power Company as well as environmental and generation data from multiple state and national databases. Additionally, we discuss the policy implications of implementing a VOST as opposed to Net Metering.  Our research finds that a VOST can range greatly depending on the methods and assumptions used, highlighting how the choices made in a VOS methodology process can have major impacts on policy design. The ranges established with our study was 7.59 - 17.2 c/kWh. This research begins a much-needed conversation with the energy policy literature and is the first to execute a value of solar assessment for Georgia.


We build on the evaluated VOST and assess the potential for a VOST to create a cost-shift within customer classes. We utilize the GTDSM (Georgia Tech Demand Side Model) to execute our analysis on the residential customer class in Georgia Power Company’s territory. Our results are compared against the use of Retail-Rate Net Metering and Georgia’s current compensation mechanism for distributed solar. To do so we calculate a historical price elasticity of demand for residential photovoltaics and estimate how the implementation of a VOST and net metering may impact the levelized cost of energy for distributed solar and market adoption rates. We find that the implementation of a VOST or Net Metering would have no meaningful cost shift within the residential customer class over the modeling horizon. This research is the first to assess one of the major barriers to state energy policy innovations that facilitate the adoption of distributed solar - the concept of the ‘cost shift.’

The final case study explores the urban water-energy-nexus and the potential for innovations in water and energy policy under a nexus viewpoint. For our evaluation, we develop the ANAT model - an input-output model - and apply it to Atlanta, Ga We analyze the impacts of a hypothetical deployment of rain water harvesting cisterns and photovoltaics on 2% of all new commercial and residential constructions in Fulton County. We adapt the model to scale to Atlanta’s water supply system and to Georgia Power’s electricity network. Our findings provide support for the use of distributed solar photovoltaics as effective technologies for water resource management. The metrics provided in this research will provide policy makers with a better understanding of the connections between water and energy production, consumption, and management and expands the scope of technologies and pathways for water resource management and sustainable growth within the context of urban development and climate change.



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Phd Defense
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