Marilyn A. Brown

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 Regents' and Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems 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. She is a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, 2007, for co-authorship of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group III Assessment Report on Mitigation of Climate Change, Chapter 6.

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 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 eight National Academies committees and is an Editor of Energy Policy and an Editorial Board member of Energy Efficiency and Energy Research and Social Science. She served two terms (2010-2017) as a Presidential appointee and regulator on the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s largest public power provider. From 2014-2018 she served on DOE’s Electricity Advisory Committee, where she led the Smart Grid Subcommittee.

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
  • 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-6352: Utility Reg & Policy
  • PUBP-6701: Energy Technol & Policy
  • PUBP-8833: Special Topics

Recent Publications

Books

Journal Articles

Conferences

Working Papers

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

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  • The Economics of Four Virginia Biomass Plants
    Date: April 2018

    Global electricity generated from biomass more than tripled between 2000 and 2016, and it is forecast to grow at an increasing pace through 2050. 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 and is double the cost of energy efficiency. Even with the inclusion of federal subsidies and environmental credits, Dominion’s biomass conversions are not competitive. 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.

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  • The Economics of Four Virginia Biomass Plants
    Date: 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.

    View All Details about The Economics of Four Virginia Biomass Plants