Energy Law Specialization

Consider electrification, and you’ll quickly understand the complexity of energy and the environment.​

Access to reliable electricity correlates with good public health and economic success, yet nearly 25 percent of the world’s population lives without electricity. Another third has limited access. The 600 million of us who have abundant electricity keep finding ways to use more. It’s no wonder that demand for electricity is increasing at a staggering rate.

Energy generation and consumption, however, is also the world’s largest source of pollution and cause of environmental degradation. Energy policy has become the single most important influence on environmental protection. Conversely, efforts to protect and manage the environment pose the greatest constraint on energy.

Vermont Law School courses and clinics consider the relationship between energy and the environment in the context of its legal, scientific, commercial and human implications. Courses include:

Further expertise is gained through engagement with the Institute for Energy and the Environment (IEE) on real world energy law and policy issues.

The Institute for Energy and the Environment is a national and world energy policy resource with an advanced energy law and policy curriculum focused on the energy policy of the future. The institute serves as a center for graduate research on energy issues with an environmental awareness and recently established a year-round student-staffed energy clinic, which works on legal and business models for community energy development. Students learn how to work with and improve America’s legal system in order to help humanity meet the challenge of energy issues. The IEE is working on client-focused projects exploring energy security and justice, barriers to the integration of renewable energy resources, how smart grid technologies can enhance both efficiency and expand the electrification of transportation, and data privacy issues related to customer solar and energy efficiency information.

Professor Kevin Jones, the IEE Director, is the former director of energy policy for New York City and coauthor of A Smarter, Greener Grid: Forging Environmental Progress from Smart Energy Policies and Technologies. Assistant Professor Jeannie Oliver, LLM '14, is Staff Attorney for the Energy Clinic. Assistant Professor and Senior Fellow Mark James, LLM '16, leads projects in IEE and teaches. The IEE is also staffed by a program coordinator, two Global Energy Fellows and approximately twenty JD, LLM, and masters students who serve as research associates.

INSTITUTE AND ENERGY CLINIC PROJECTS

  • Develop legal models promoting community solar ownership and work with local community organizations on solar project development
  • Research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy on data privacy policies governing use of customer solar and energy efficiency data
  • Author a book on how the electric battery is a key to a low carbon future
  • Analyze the barriers to low income solar ownership and advocating for policy solutions
  • Publications on climate refugees, the energy burden for Vermonters, federal tax incentives for small scale hydro, and the analysis of divergent net metering reforms in Nevada and California