Graham Sustainability Institute

Expanding the Renewable Energy Policy Initiative

Project Photo

Project Team

Barry Rabe - Ford School of Public Policy (Ford)
Tony Reames - School for Environment and Sustainability
Sarah Mills - Ford
Kristy Hartman - National Conference of State Legislatures

Project Summary

The May 2019 Renewable Energy Policy Initiative (REPI) workshop, which was co-hosted by Ford School's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), convened academic experts and policymakers in a unique forum to explore renewable energy policies at the state and local level. The workshop's objectives embodied the mission of CLOSUP, which is to more deliberately engage policymakers throughout the research process to improve the odds that the work these faculty undertake informs policy. 

To that end, this workshop presented a novel approach to the typical researcher-policymaker paradigm. Rather than just communicating findings from their research, researchers and policymakers were able to identify areas of mutual interest and ensure the academic experts are approaching issues asking the right questions. Further, it enabled the faculty to receive feedback on on-going research and better understand legislator’s communication preferences. 

Broadening participation 

Graham's funding enabled broader participation at the workshop from legislators across the country as well as from researchers across the university. In particular, the catalyst grant allowed Dr. Tony Reames (School for Environment and Sustainability) to conduct and share new research on the various policies and approaches states are using to address racial disparities in access to solar energy. His work, along with that of other researchers participating in the event, was shared directly with policymakers through a panel discussion, policy conversations, and as policy briefs.

"An uncommon opportunity" 

Feedback collected following the workshop has been extremely positive, revealing that attendees appreciated the uncommon opportunity to join the worlds of policymaking and academia on this important topic. As a result of the workshop, researchers across schools at U-M made new connections, and are now optimistic about finding ways to sustain this connection on a project in the near future. What’s more, CLOSUP and NCSL plan to hold a follow-up workshop in the Summer of 2020 with an even broader involvement across U-M’s campus from faculty interested in issues related to renewable energy.


Below are links to policy briefs developed for the workshop: 

For more details, read the final project report (PDF)

This project received a $10,000 Catalyst Grant in 2019.