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Production of electricity in the United States is entering a period of dramatic transformation. Yet, despite broad-based support for a smarter energy grid in many states and the federal government, a combination of socioeconomic, technological, and legal barriers sometimes impede deployment of smart grid systems. The barriers include information gaps, capital constraints, poor pricing methods, and outdated laws. Market failures also exist in the form of network effects, high transaction costs, and technology spillovers from investments in learning-by-doing. It is clear that large-scale transformation of the electric utility sector will not occur unless these barriers are better understood, and then neutralized or circumvented.

The University of Texas Interdisciplinary Energy Conference will examine mechanisms for overcoming barriers to deployment of smarter electric power systems and technologies. Topics discussed will address three primary sources of change: (1) new business models and consumer acceptance of smart-grid technologies, (2) institutions that facilitate deployment of smart grids and reduction of electricity demand, and (3) promoting interoperability of smart-grid technology standards. The final panel will provide a view from the field of current trends and challenges. Participants will span multiple disciplines (e.g., engineering, public policy, law, economics, psychology, business), and will be drawn from universities, the private sector, and government. The conference will bring these diverse perspectives to bear on the key questions relating to smart grid penetration.

The conference is being jointly funded and organized by the University of Texas' School of Law (David Adelman, Melinda Taylor), McCombs School of Business (John Butler, David Spence, Sheridan Titman), and the Cockrell School of Engineering (Ross Baldick, Tom Edgar, Michael Webber), as well as the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute at University of Texas-San Antonio (Les Shephard; Hariharan Krishnaswami), the Pecan Street Project (Brewster McCracken), and the Austin Technology Incubator (Isaac Barchas).

Presentations from the 2011 Conference

A .zip file of all the presentations given during the conference is available here. Individual presentations are also available by clicking on the persons name as they appear throughout the site.


Hotel:  AT&T Hotel and Conference Center ( 


Click here for a printable version of the conference schedule and logistic information.