Joshua C. Macey, assistant professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School, says the time has come for states and the federal government to abandon certain outdated utility laws that are obstructing the nation’s push toward cleaner energy sources.
Macey’s arguments are detailed in his paper, Zombie Energy Laws, which was just awarded the 2021 Morrison Prize – an honor established in 2015 and administered through the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.
“Zombie Energy Laws examines how century-old laws designed to protect consumers in the public utility era are now being used to harm consumers and impede decarbonization goals,” says Macey. “I hope that, as the federal government takes a more proactive approach to climate change, it will consider how legacy rules from the public utility era could undermine those efforts.”
As renewable energy technologies have advanced in recent decades, utility laws have failed to keep up. Now, some outmoded utility laws are increasingly slowing the transition to a carbon-free energy system. Fortunately, as Macey explains, by shedding these laws, governments could accelerate the country’s progress in adopting clean energy sources.