Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1.5 hours / session


IDS.505J is a graduate-level course. A background in policy analysis, microeconomics and/or engineering and science is preferred. Open to advanced undergraduates with permission of instructor.


The course presents an in-depth interdisciplinary perspective of electric power systems, with regulation providing the link among the engineering, economic, legal and environmental viewpoints. Generation dispatch, demand response, optimal network flows, risk allocation, reliability of service, renewable energy sources, ancillary services, tariff design, distributed generation, rural electrification, environmental impacts and strategic sustainability issues will be among the topics addressed under both traditional and competitive regulatory frameworks.

The course will make available the engineering, economic and legal basis to critically evaluate the regulatory instruments that are used worldwide for electricity supply activities that are performed as regulated monopolies or under competitive conditions. Most of these regulatory approaches are also of application in other industrial sectors.

The knowledge acquired in the course will provide the comprehensive understanding of electric power systems that will be needed for research in this field, as well as for future professional activities in the energy sector, whether in industry, government or consulting.


Homework assignments 50%
Term paper 50%

The final grade for the course will be computed based on the take-home assignments (50%) and a final term paper (50%), including presentation and discussion. Participation in class (lectures and recitations) will be taken into account when determining the final grade.


1-3 Module A: Power system operation and management How do electric power systems manage to provide electricity continuously with an adequate quality of service, at an affordable price and with an acceptable environmental impact?
4 Module B: The regulatory function Does the electric power sector need to be regulated and, if so, what kind of regulation does it need?
5-6 Module C: Distribution and regulation of monopolies How to regulate a network monopolistic activity, such as distribution of electricity? Under which conditions would an electric utility provide distribution network services efficiently and with an adequate quality of service?
7-13 Module D: Electricity generation: optimization models, theory and practice of wholesale markets. How to design, implement and monitor an efficient, reliable and environmentally adequate system of electricity production? Competitive markets or traditional regulation? How does a wholesale market function? How to deal with any abuses of market power?
14-16 Module E: Transmission What is the impact of the transmission network on the functioning of wholesale electricity markets? How to succeed in making investment in transmission networks happen in the right amount, at the right times and at minimum cost for the users?
17 Module F: Electricity tariffs How are the costs of the different activities reflected in the prices that final consumers have to pay for the electricity that they use?
18 Module G: Retail markets Does it make sense to extend retail competition to all the end consumers? How should retail markets be implemented? How to achieve an active participation of demand in the functioning of the power system?
19 Module H: Long-term guarantee of supply in generation Can energy-only markets be trusted to attain an adequate level of investment in generation capacity? What regulatory instruments (if any) could be used to promote additional investment and at what cost? Is there any successful experience?
20 Module I: System operation in practice How are the security and economic functions—involving generation, transmission and demand—actually implemented?
21 Module J: Generation from renewable energy sources What is different in generation from renewable energy sources with respect to generation from other sources? What is the justification of separate regulatory regimes? Which regulatory instruments have been used and/or proposed to promote renewables? Which ones have worked and which ones have not and why?
22 Module K: Regional electricity markets What is the justification of establishing regional/multinational electricity markets? What are the new regulatory topics to be considered in the regional context? What can be learned from existing international experiences?
23 Module L: Sustainability aspects What are the weak points of the present global energy model under a sustainability point of view? What is the contribution of the electric power sector to the lack of sustainability? What are the major measures that can be adopted to redirect the present model to a more sustainable path? How could these measures affect electricity markets?
24 Module M: Energy efficiency What roles should electric distribution utilities play in promoting energy efficiency and responsive energy?
25 Module N: Universal access to electricity How many people still lack access to electricity? What is the impact on human development? What has been the impact of the recent regulatory reforms on access to electricity? What could be adequate approaches to achieve universal electricity access?
26 Module O: CO2 markets and prices What are the major potential elements of the future global regime to address climate change? What could be the role of carbon markets and prices? How could this affect electricity markets?
27 Module P: Presentation of the term papers An extended schedule will be used on that day, so that all papers will have sufficient time for presentation and discussion.