Matthew Oliver

Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs

Member Of:
  • School of Economics
Office Location: Old CE Building, Room 223

Overview

Matthew E. Oliver hails from Memphis, TN. He received his bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Memphis in 2008, and his PhD in Economics from the University of Wyoming in 2013.  His primary fields of expertise are energy economics, environmental and natural resource economics, and industrial organization and regulation. Dr. Oliver’s research interests focus primarily on the regulation of energy resources and energy infrastructure. Much of his past work has dealt with natural gas markets and interstate pipelines. More recently, his research has focused on the market effects of rapid deployment of renewable energy technologies (e.g., wind and solar photovoltaics). Additionally, he has published (and ongoing) research on other topics such as the links between energy resource development, environment, and economic growth, and the economics of climate change. Since joining Georgia Tech in 2013, Dr. Oliver has taught various courses in energy and environmental economics, microeconomics, and macroeconomics.

Education:
  • Ph.D., University of Wyoming
  • B.A., University of Memphis

Interests

Research Fields:
  • Applied Econometrics
  • Applied Microeconomics
  • Energy Economics
  • Environmental Economics
Issues:
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • International Development
  • Infrastructure

Courses

  • ECON-2105: Prin of Macroeconomics
  • ECON-2106: Prin of Microeconomics
  • ECON-3110: Adv Microeconomic Analys
  • ECON-3300: Intl Energy Markets
  • ECON-4170: Mathematical Economics
  • ECON-4440: Economics of Environment
  • ECON-6105: Macroeconomics
  • ECON-6380: Economic of Environment
  • ECON-7012: Microeconomic Theory I
  • ECON-7102: Environmental Econ I

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

  • Electricity Consumption Changes Following Solar Adoption: Testing for a Solar Rebound
    In: Economic Inquiry [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: January 2023

    We use household level data to explore residential electricity use patterns following installation of solar panels. Solar adoption leads to an increase in total electricity consumption relative to a matched non-adopting control group. Our point estimate translates to a rebound effect of 28.5%, suggesting that nearly a third of the electricity produced by a customer’s solar panels is used for increased energy services, rather than reduced grid electricity consumption. We explore several potential drivers of an increase in electricity consumption. These results have important implications for electricity planning and policy, suggesting that rooftop solar stimulates additional demand for electricity.

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  • Trading One Waste for Another? Unintended Consequences of Fly Ash Reuse in the Indian Electric Power Sector
    In: Energy Policy [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: June 2022

    In this paper, we examine the direct consequences of waste by-product reuse in a polluting industry, namely, India's coal-fired electric power sector, where ‘fly ash’ is legally required to be used as a substitute input in other industries. We first develop a simple theoretical model to gain insight and derive testable hypotheses applicable to our specific empirical setting. We provide empirical support for our model's predictions by exploiting plant-level variation in fly ash utilization. Results indicate greater reuse of fly ash per kWh of generation increases coal consumption per kWh, reduces the quality of coal used, and increases plant-level CO2 emissions per kWh. These results suggest the potential benefits of this policy—e.g., reduced waste disposal costs—may be offset by unanticipated increases in other external costs, particularly if not accompanied by supplementary regulation of other forms of pollution.

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  • Are energy endowed countries responsible for conditional convergence?
    In: The Energy Journal [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: May 2022

    We test for economic convergence in GDP per capita and consumption per capita within two distinct sets of countries: those with significant (and plausibly exogenous) fossil fuel (FF) endowments and those without such endowments. Among countries with FF endowments, we find evidence of both absolute and conditional convergence across both macroeconomic dimensions, as indicated by standard β- and σ-convergence tests. By contrast, we do not find robust evidence of convergence among countries without FF endowments. This pattern—convergence among FF-endowed and non-convergence among non-endowed countries—is robust to changes in the sample period, controlling for potential resource curse effects, and is largely consistent across growth components. We discuss the implications for economic development and comment on its implications for global decarbonization policies.

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  • Framework for assessment of the direct rebound effect for residential photovoltaic systems
    In: Applied Energy [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: October 2019

    Over the past two decades the market for residential rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems has grown substantially due mainly to declining costs—a trend that is expected to continue. One drawback of PV system diffusion is the potential for a rebound effect, a well-known economic response through which potential energy savings are partially offset by increased demand resulting from lower energy costs. Our work differs from the existing literature, however, because the rebound effect associated with the adoption of rooftop PV is due not to an improvement in energy efficiency, but to the availability of a zero-marginal cost alternative to grid electricity. This paper develops a novel method for estimating the rebound effect for rooftop PV based on economic and geographic information systems modeling. The method is illustrated through a numerical example, using neighborhood-level data from Fulton County, Georgia, USA. We discuss possible applications of our proposed method, which include (i) enhancing the predictive capability for conventional power grid managers in balancing forecasted demand with dispatchable supply, and (ii) aiding policy makers in designing policies to mitigate the rebound effect associated with solar PV adoption.

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  • Renewable generation capacity and wholesale electricity price variance
    In: The Energy Journal [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: September 2019

    The share of electric power generated from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar must increase dramatically in the coming decades if greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced to sustainable levels. An under-researched implication of such a transition in competitive wholesale electricity markets is that greater wind and solar generation capacity directly affects wholesale price variability. In theory, two counter-vailing forces should be at work. First, greater wind and solar generation capacity should reduce short-run variance in the wholesale electricity price due to a stochastic merit-order effect. However, increasing the generation capacity of these technologies may increase price variance due to an intermittency effect. Using an instrumental variables identification strategy to control for endogeneity, we find evidence that greater combined wind and solar generation capacity is associated with an increase in the quarterly variance of wholesale electricity prices. That is, the intermittency effect dominates the stochastic merit-order effect.

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  • Pricing flexibility under rate-of-return regulation: Effects on network infrastructure investment
    In: Economic Modelling [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: May 2019

    When a commodity market relies upon a regulated network service industry—e.g., telecommunications, electricity, or natural gas transmission—economic efficiency in that commodity market is a crucial consideration for regulatory design. This is because insufficient infrastructure investment relative to network demand results in congestion. The extraction of associated rents has distortionary effects on commodity spot market prices. Greater regulatory flexibility in network pricing can alleviate such issues by cultivating the incentives needed for stakeholders to invest in transmission capacity. To illustrate this effect I derive and numerically solve stylized optimality conditions for access and usage prices for a gas pipeline operator under alternative regulatory models. My results have general implications for regulation in network infrastructure industries, as energy and telecommunications markets are expected to expand considerably over the coming decades.

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  • Taming Drillers through Legislative Action: Evidence from Pennsylvania's Shale Gas Industry
    In: Resource and Energy Economics [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: November 2017

    In 2012 Pennsylvania amended its Oil and Gas Act to tighten regulations on development of shale gas resources. Three key pecuniary provisions were annual well fees, increased bonding requirements, and higher penalty limits for violations. We analyze the effects of these mandates on well operator behavior using data on well operations and inspections over the period 2000-2013. After deriving theoretical predictions, we empirically examine each provision’s effect on firm behavior in two aspects: (i) acquisition of new well permits, and (ii) regulatory violations. Overall, we find the amendments induced firms to acquire fewer permits and elevate environmental protection effort. 

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  • Economies of Scale and Scope in Expansion of the U.S. Natural Gas Pipeline Network
    In: Energy Economics [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: November 2015

    I analyze cost, capacity, mileage, and technical data for 254 U.S. natural gas pipeline projects over the period 1997–2012. Although project costs exhibit economies of scale over the capacity margin and economies of scope over the spatial margin, network expansion costs may not exhibit cost economies overall. That is, proportional increases in both transmission capacity and length (in miles) may result in a proportional (or even greater-than-proportional) increase in expansion costs. Moreover, large projects (high-capacity pipelines spanning long distances) likely require installation of compression horsepower, which has direct cost effects. My results suggest such projects exhibit significant diseconomies in cost structure. As a result, pipeline tariffs based on cost-of-service pricing likely present a disincentive for prospective pipeline customers to commit to long-term contracts—which are necessary for the pipeline to acquire regulatory permission to build—particularly for large, long-distance expansion projects. The implication is that cost-of-service pricing may inhibit network expansion, exacerbating congestion issues.

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Recent Publications

Journal Articles

  • Tipping the scale: Why utility-scale solar avoids a solar rebound and what it means for U.S. solar policy
    In: The Electricity Journal [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: May 2023

    Adoption of residential rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems is increasingly widespread. However, empirical evidence shows that households who adopt rooftop PV increase total electricity consumption, a response known as the ‘solar rebound effect’ (SRE). The SRE implies that rooftop PV generation displaces conventional, grid-supplied electricity—still overwhelmingly generated by fossil fuel combustion—on a less than one-for-one basis. This article argues that utility-scale solar avoids a SRE because the SRE emerges as a household's response to the self-generation of electricity by its rooftop PV system, which changes its electricity consumption incentives in ways that utility-scale solar does not. By avoiding a SRE, utility-scale solar allows the carbon reduction potential of increased PV generation capacity to be more fully realized, which has important implications for U.S. solar policy.

    View All Details about Tipping the scale: Why utility-scale solar avoids a solar rebound and what it means for U.S. solar policy

  • Electricity Consumption Changes Following Solar Adoption: Testing for a Solar Rebound
    In: Economic Inquiry [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: January 2023

    We use household level data to explore residential electricity use patterns following installation of solar panels. Solar adoption leads to an increase in total electricity consumption relative to a matched non-adopting control group. Our point estimate translates to a rebound effect of 28.5%, suggesting that nearly a third of the electricity produced by a customer’s solar panels is used for increased energy services, rather than reduced grid electricity consumption. We explore several potential drivers of an increase in electricity consumption. These results have important implications for electricity planning and policy, suggesting that rooftop solar stimulates additional demand for electricity.

    View All Details about Electricity Consumption Changes Following Solar Adoption: Testing for a Solar Rebound