Winds of change in energy systems: Policy implementation, technology deployment, and regional transmission organizations

Benjamin A. Stafford, Elizabeth J Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Changes in the electricity sector since the turn of the century have brought significant penetration of wind generation resources onto the electric power grid. Creating a low-carbon and sustainable electric systems to respond to climate change and meet societal energy needs requires different technologies and changes in supporting policies and institutions. But just how these institutions are creating and implementing new policies has emerged as an important area of inquiry. Changing how the electricity system works requires coordinated interaction across many different stakeholder groups and multiple levels of governance. We explore these emerging processes of policy implementation by examining how wind energy resources are changing the operation of the electric grid. To do this, we develop an in-depth, grounded case study examining decision making within the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, a U.S. Regional Transmission Organization. We use a multi-method approach to the strategic action field theory (SAF; e.g. Moulton and Sandfort, 2015) to examine how MISO created and implemented policy, changing energy markets and power systems operation to allow for the integration of wind resources. Our study examines the critical and understudied role of energy policy implementation in practice and focuses on how stakeholders are making decisions which are shaping the use and value of new and existing energy technologies and, in doing so, transforming the energy system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-236
Number of pages15
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Science Foundation under the grant: Collaborative Research: Planning for Renewables: Regional Transmission Organizations Managing Tension and Networking Innovation (Awarded July 2013, SES-1261670 and SES-1261995). The authors would like to thank David Solan, Jared Kopczynski, Natalie Nelson-Marsh, Stephanie Lenhart, Seth Blumsack, and Nick Johnson for their work on data collection and ongoing conversations regarding this project. We would also like to thank Jodi Sandfort and Stephanie Moulton for their help with the SAF framework.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016


  • Electricity policy
  • Inter-organizational collaboration
  • Policy innovation
  • Regional Transmission Organizations
  • Renewable energy
  • Wind integration


Dive into the research topics of 'Winds of change in energy systems: Policy implementation, technology deployment, and regional transmission organizations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this