Seth Wiggins

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Agricultural and Resource Economics

Committee Chair

Xiaoli Etienne

Committee Co-Chair

Gerard D'Souza

Committee Member

Stratford Douglas

Committee Member

Levan Elbakidze

Committee Member

Donald Lacombe


This dissertation focuses on the economics of electricity generation. I aim to answer three main questions: After controlling for outside market forces, how did acid rain regulation impact Eastern coal production? How have the fundamental relationships in the natural gas market changed since deregulation, especially given the rise of production from shale resources? And how have sub-state policies affected the adoption of residential solar generation installations? For each question, I use economic tools to provide empirical answers which will contribute both to the academic literature as well as energy policy.;My first essay looks at the coal production in the Eastern US from 1983-2012. It is widely understood that the quantity of coal produced in this region declined during this time period, though its causes are debated. While some have identified the cause to be outside economic forces, the prevailing view is that federal regulation was the main driver. By controlling for outside market forces, this paper is able to estimate the effect that the differing regulatory periods have had on coal production. Results demonstrate how in general the regulatory phases of the Acid Rain Program are associated with decreases in production in the Illinois and Appalachian basins, however with varying magnitudes. Further, there are some areas that saw some increases. The essay also measure the mitigating impact that the installation of 'scrubber' units had on production. Overall, this essay provides a more nuanced look at the relationship between coal production and regulation during this time period.;The second essay in this dissertation models the natural gas market. Since the complete deregulation of the market in 1993, there have been significant changes. Most notably, the rapid rise of production from shale resources has greatly increased the supply and decreased the price of the commodity. Where for many years a net importer, the US is now predicted to be a net exporter of natural gas within the next year. This massive change has altered the fundamental relationships in the market. This essay utilizes recently developed methodology to estimate how these relationships have changed over time. Further, given our research design we are able to estimate how the supply and demand elasticities have been influenced in the new era of abundant and cheap natural gas. Results provide a more nuanced view of the natural gas market, and allow for a better understanding of its drivers.;My third essay measures the impact that certain policies have had in the residential solar market. Specifically, I estimate the impact on residential solar adoption associated with sub-state policies, enacted at the municipal, county, or utility level. To capture the clustering and peer effects in the adoption of residential solar that have been described in the literature, I utilize spatial econometric methods. To better model the nested nature of state and county renewable policies, a Bayesian hierarchical model is used. Results suggest that sub-state policies are associated with positive and significant increases in per-capita residential solar installations and capacity additions.