Marilyn A. Brown, Ph.D.

Regents Professor

Member Of:
  • School of Public Policy
  • Center for Urban Innovation
  • Climate and Energy Policy Laboratory
  • Technology Policy and Assessment Center
Fax Number:
404-385-0504
Office Location:
DM Smith 312
Overview

Marilyn Brown is a professor in the School of Public Policy. She joined Georgia Tech in 2006 after a distinguished career at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where she led several national climate change mitigation studies and became a leader in the analysis and interpretation of energy futures in the United States.

Her research focuses on the design and impact of policies aimed at accelerating the development and deployment of sustainable energy technologies, with an emphasis on the electric utility industry, the integration of energy efficiency, demand response, and solar resources, and ways of improving resiliency to disruptions. Her books include Fact and Fiction in Global Energy Policy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), Green Savings: How Policies and Markets Drive Energy Efficiency (Praeger, 2015), and Climate Change and Global Energy Security (MIT Press, 2011). She has authored more than 250 publications. Her work has had significant visibility in the policy arena as evidenced by her numerous briefings and testimonies before state legislative bodies and Committees of both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

Dr. Brown co-founded the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance and chaired its Board of Directors for several years. She has served on the boards of directors of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the Alliance to Save Energy, and was a commissioner with the Bipartisan Policy Center. She has served on 8 National Academies committees and currently serves on the editorial boards of three journals:  Energy Policy, Energy Efficiency and Energy Research and Social Science. She is serving her second term as a Presidential appointee to the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s largest public power provider, and she serves on DOE’s Electricity Advisory Committee.

Education:
  • Ph.D., Ohio State University, Geography
  • M.R.P., University of Massachusetts, Regional Planning
  • B.A., Rutgers University, Political Science
Awards and
Distinctions:
  • 2017, Regents Professor
  • Brook Byers Chaired Professor, Institute of Sustainable Systems, 2014-2018.
  • 2016 Alliance to Save Energy "Star of Energy Efficiency"
  • DOE Electricity Advisory Board, 2014-2018
  • 2013, “Who’s Who in Sustainability”, Atlanta Business Chronicle.
  • DOE Ambassador for Clean Energy Education and Empowerment, 2013-2017
  • 2012 Southface Energy Institute Award of Excellence
  • Presidential Appointment: Board of Directors, TVA, 2010-2017.
  • 2007 Co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for co-authorship of the IPCC Report on Mitigation of Climate Change
Areas of
Expertise:
  • Behavioral-based Modeling Of Climate And Energy Policy
  • Electric Utility Economics And Regulation
Interests
Research Fields:
  • Clean Energy
  • Climate Change Adaptation
  • Climate Change Mitigation
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Energy Markets
  • Energy, Climate and Environmental Policy
  • Financing and Subsidies
  • Information Programs
  • Innovation and Diffusion
  • Institutional Analysis
  • Market-based Incentives
  • Regulations and Standards
  • Smart Grid
  • Transportation
  • Voluntary Programs
Geographic
Focuses:
  • Europe
  • United States
  • United States - Georgia
  • United States - Southeast
Issues:
  • Energy
  • Environment
Courses
  • PUBP-3350: Energy Policy
  • PUBP-6201: Public Policy Analysis
  • PUBP-6701: Energy Technol & Policy
  • PUBP-8833: Special Topics
Recent Publications

Journal Articles

Working Papers

  • Carbon Pricing and Energy Efficiency: Pathways to Deep Decarbonization of the U.S. Electric Sector

    May 2018

    Despite the commitment of the Paris agreement to pursue efforts to limit end-of-century global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, few have studied mitigation pathways consistent with such a demanding goal. This paper uses a fully integrated engineering-economic model of the U.S. energy system, to explore the ability of the U.S. electricity sector to operate within a budget of 44 gigatons of CO2 (GtCO2) between 2016 and 2040 - almost 20 percent less than projected. Our modeling results suggest that carbon taxes coupled with strong energy-efficiency policies would produce synergistic effects that could meet deep decarbonization goals. Combining energy-efficiency initiatives with a $10/tCO2 tax rising to $27/tCO2 in 2040 (in $2013) would achieve the U.S. electric sector's carbon budget with a net savings to the U.S. economy. A $20/tCO2 tax rising to $53/tCO2 in 2040 would also stay below this budget, but it would cost more if not coupled with strong energy efficiency. U.S. regions will win or lose depending on their generation mix and how carbon tax revenues are recycled.

  • The Economics of Four Virginia Biomass Plants

    March 2018

    Global electricity generated from biomass more than tripled between 2000 and 2016, and it is forecast to grow at an increasing pace through the year 2040. Electricity generation from biomass is also expanding in the United States, particularly in the Southeast. Given the continued growth and policy support for biomass electricity generation, this paper assesses the economics of four Virginia biomass plants, three converted from coal plants in 2012 and one purchased and expanded in 2004. The goal is to estimate the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) generated from the plants as a metric of their level of competitiveness with respect to alternative ways of meeting electricity demand in the region. The LCOE of the four plants range from $93 to $143/MWh, about 40-53% more expensive than new solar and wind today. Even with the inclusion of federal subsidies and environmental credits, Dominion’s biomass conversions are not competitive with several other established sources of electricity and affordable energy-efficiency options. Overall, our analysis underscores the risks associated with investing in large, long-lived generation assets at a time when technologies and markets are rapidly evolving.

  • Theorizing the Behavioral Dimension of Energy Consumption
       In: Energy and Society Handbook

    January 2018

    This chapter focuses on the well-documented misalignment between energy-related behaviors and the personal values of consumers, which has become a major source of angst among
    policymakers. Despite widespread pro-environmental or green attitudes, consumers frequently purchase non-green alternatives. The chapter identifies 50 theoretical approaches that can be
    divided almost equally into two types: those that emphasize beliefs, attitudes, and values; and those that also consider contextual factors and social norms. Three principles of intervention are recommended: provide credible and targeted information at points of decision; identify and address the key factors inhibiting and promoting the target behaviours in particular populations; and rigorously evaluate programes to provide credible estimates of impact and opportunities for improvements. The chapter recommends that research on the value-action gap be expanded beyond the traditional focus on individuals to include decision-making units such as households, boards of directors, commercial buying units, and government procurement groups.

  • The Clean Power Plan and Beyond

    June 2016

    Since the release of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), stakeholders across the U.S. have vigorously debated the pros and cons of different options for reducing CO2 emissions from electricity generation. This paper examines an array of CPP strategies, ranging from incremental to transformational, and from the near-term to the longer-term. The goal is to identify least-cost options to help policymakers and other stakeholders make well-informed choices. The Georgia Institute of Technology’s National Energy Modeling System is used to evaluate alternative futures. Our modeling suggests that CPP compliance can be achieved cost effectively by expanding new natural gas and renewable electricity generation to replace higher emitting coal plants and by using energy efficiency to curb demand growth, thereby enabling a more affordable pace of plant replacements. Post-2030 policies requiring further CO2 emission reductions, in combination with perfect foresight today, would motivate less natural gas build-out over the next 15 years. The South’s response to the CPP is distinct, with a larger share of coal retirements and a greater proportionate uptake of natural gas, energy efficiency, and renewable resources. In addition to reducing CO2 emissions, these least-cost compliance scenarios would produce substantial collateral benefits including lower electricity bills across all customer classes and significant reductions in local air pollution. https://cepl.gatech.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/NEMS_CPP_Paper_06-24-2016.pdf#