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The Florida State University

 IESES Newsletter



 April/May 2011 




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Table of Contents
Methods to Overcome the Hold-Out Problem in Land Acquisition: An Experimental Economics Study
Energy Policy and Considering the Renewable Energy Footprint
MegaWatt Ventures Clean Energy Business Competition Selects Verdicorp Inc. to Compete for $100,000 Grand Prize!
Improved Photovoltaic Cell for Solar Energy Harvesting
Off Grid Zero Emissions Building (OGZEB) Wins 2011 Residential Energy Efficiency Award
Florida Wind Potential Discussed at the Florida Energy and Climate Commission
Methods to Overcome the Hold-Out Problem in Land Acquisition: An Experimental Economics Study

By: Mike Willinger, IESES Public Policy Program Planner 


In order to construct long-distance transmission lines to connect new alterative energy sources to population centers, issues of land acquisition are central for policy makers. It is often necessary to put several land parcels together to build renewable energy power plants as well as connect the energy to homes and businesses. This practice is called land assemblage. One common problem in putting together land parcels for an assemblage is the refusal of a land owner to sell at the market price, holding out for a better price. If ways to mitigate the hold out problem are not employed, hold-out sellers can increase costs for the buyer.



Land parcels, in blue, becoming a land  assemblage.


Economics Professor Mark Isaac and his former graduate student, now Assistant Professor at Fordam University, Sean Collins were concerned about the hold out problem and its potential to limit development of renewable energy sources in the U.S. Using the The Florida State University Experimental Social Sciences Lab, they developed an experiment that recreated different land assemblage scenarios. The lab consists of computer stations programed with land assemblage scenarios. The researchers can interact with the volunteer subjects. The volunteers were recruited for the experiment and they were assigned to different roles as buyers and sellers with different experimental conditions.

Drs. Isaac and Collins conducted a variety of experiments that tested different aspects of buying and selling land for an assemblage. Ultimately, they tested whether methods typically used in the private sector to limit hold-out are effective. The land sellers reliably acted as hold-outs in the first scenarios, until contingent contracts were introduced. In later scenarios, a buyer employs contingent contracts to negotiate with all the sellers and does not purchase the land until all the parcels are under contract. The sale is dependent on having an  

Isaac, Mark

Dr. Mark Isaac, John & Hallie Quinn Eminent Scholar of Economics

agreement among all the sellers and only then does the sale take place. The experiments verify that contingent contracts nearly eliminated the hold-out problem. These results indicate that when a land assemblage is being created for a renewable energy power plant, contingent contracting methods could significantly reduce the hold-out problem in land sales.


Dr. Mark Isaac is an IESES research partner and this research was funded by IESES.
A copy of the original paper can be accessed here.  

Energy Policy and Considering the Renewable Energy Footprint
solar and land use

A solar array as a land use.


With the shift toward renewable energy comes the potential for staggering land use impacts.  Many millions of acres may be converted from its current use to meet demand for electricity and fuel over the next 20 years. Uma Outka, FSU Visiting Law Scholar,  investigated the issue of renewable energy land use.  She finds that, to conservationists' dismay, the more renewable energy we use, the more land we need. Ms. Outka is concerned with two primary questions: What are the implications of renewable energy development for land use and land use law, and how might the land use context inform emerging energy policy?

Siting power plants and transmission lines is notoriously difficult, and siting for renewable energy generation has proved no exception. As investment in the sector has grown, so has dissatisfaction with existing land-use siting frameworks. This perceived inadequacy has led to a flurry of new siting-related laws and policymaking tailored to large-scale renewable energy infrastructure. So-called NIMBYs opposing renewable projects are derided for hindering the green economy.  While almost reflexively, renewable energy proponents refer to siting these generation facilities as a "trade-off" needed to shrink the carbon footprint, but grow the land use footprint.

Image of Uma Outka2

Uma Outka

FSU Visiting Law Scholar

This trade-off reflex is counterproductive and is presented often as a false choice that obscures legitimate land use concerns while slowing renewable energy development. Ms. Outka's research proposes that the focus should be on deliberately crafting law that avoids needless compromise when possible. This perspective demands a far greater integration of energy policy and land use law. To date and across the board, siting regulation almost exclusively fixates on site-specific land use - the localized considerations for using a particular land parcel. Although this remains important, it can be shortsighted given the potential quantity of land and the impacts at stake. Accordingly, Ms. Outka argues that cumulative land impacts should be a central consideration in the development and implementation of energy policy.

For more information, see the forthcoming article in the Stanford Environmental Law Journal.  Ms. Outka is an IESES research partner and the research was funded by IESES.  A copy of the original paper is can be accessed here.   


MegaWatt Ventures Clean Energy Business Competition Selects Verdicorp Inc. to Compete for $100,000 Grand Prize!

Ron Conry, CEO Verdicorp Inc. (left) recognized by Dave Cartes, Director of IESES, for partnering with IESES in MegaWatt Ventures Clean Energy Business Competition 


MegaWatt Ventures Clean Energy Business Competition held it's first competition and announced the winners March 24.  MegaWatt Ventures is an annual University of Central Florida Clean Energy Business Competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy  where Florida college students and technology entrepreneurs can launch and grow innovative energy technology companies. 


Ten teams were selected to be awarded $10,000 in their inaugural class.  The ten selected teams will now compete for a $100,000 grand prize to be awarded in September.  In addition to the $10,000 award, the ten finalist teams will each be assigned professional mentors and gain access to business workshops which will help to develop a commercially viable clean energy technology company.


The 2011 MegaWatt Venture's finalists include Verdicorp Inc. in Tallahassee, Florida who partnered with The Florida State University's Institute for Energy Systems, Economics and Sustainability (IESES) to compete for Phase I of the competition.  Verdicorp excels in developing next-generation, clean technologies. Built upon a track record of energy efficient designs and industry leading products, the core strategy of Verdicorp is to create tomorrow's technologies today, using accelerated development programs based on advanced engineering and creative thinking.


Verdicorp and IESES are identifying promising engineering students to represent the company at the next phase of the competition.  The Phase I finalists will compete in the MegaWatt Ventures' showcase event, which will be held at the Florida Solar Energy Center on September 8-9, 2011.  Engineering students interested in being part of the team, please contact Melanie Simmons at IESES.  


I hope you enjoy this issue of the IESES Newsletter!


IESES held Symposium I: Florida High Tech Jobs and Economic Development on April 4, 2011.  Click here to watch this acclaimed program online.


Banner for Symposium on Economic Development  

Be sure to watch FSU Vice President for Research Kirby Kemper discuss leadership and energy policy at the third hour, 46th minute (3:46) on the online video. 



Dave Cartes  

GAP Grant Awarded for Improved Photovoltaic Cell for Solar Energy Harvesting


Since 2005, The Florida State University Research Foundation has been funding the Grant Assistance Program (GAP), a highly competitive grant program designed to support Florida State researchers as they seek to transfer their technology out of the laboratory and into the commercial marketplace.


Image of Simon Foo

Dr. Simon Foo, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Dr. Simon Foo of the FAMU-FSU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received $15,000 of FSU GAP funding to fabricate and compare improved multi-junction solar cells against state of the art designs.  Many of the technologies in the solar cell are next generation but the materials in the solar cell are unique.  The funding will be invested in building a prototype, testing it and finding a commercial partner.  The goal of the new solar technology is to reach $0.15 per kilowatt hour or lower.  These are very competitive rates for solar power given that the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that 2009 Florida average retail price for electricity was roughly $0.12 per kilowatt hour.   


Click here to see Dr. Foo's presentation to the FSU GAP committee.   


Off Grid Zero Emissions Building (OGZEB) Wins 2011 Residential Energy Efficiency Award

The Florida State University's Off Grid Zero Emissions Building (OGZEB) was announced as a 2011 Residential Energy Efficiency Award recipient. 


OGZEB Building on FSU Campus

The award program, sponsored by the State and Local Energy Report, honors some of the

country's best projects that leverage government funds to improve the efficiency of the country's housing stock.  The program goal is to provide a platform for solutions to residential energy usage while recognizing projects that are both innovative and replicable.

Shannon Ingersoll

Shannon Ingersoll

OGZEB Manager

As a winner, the OGZEB is featured in the Spring edition of the State and Local Energy Report Magazine.  In addition to the award, OGZEB manager Shannon Ingersoll was invited to the National Home Performance Conference hosted by Affordable Comfort, Inc. in San Francisco, California where the OGZEB was recognized for the award.


For more information on the Off Grid Zero Emissions Building, please visit their website 

Florida Wind Potential Discussed at the Florida Energy & Climate Commission

The Florida Energy & Climate Commission held a meeting on March 31, 2011 that included an investigation on the potential for wind energy in Florida. There were presentations by NOAA's Mark Powell and the Wind Capital Group.  The presentations are available online.  The meeting minutes are available here.     

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The FSU Institute for Energy Systems, Economics and Sustainability

is a public resource. Here we carry out scholarly basic research and analysis in engineering, science, infrastructure, governance and the related social dimensions to further a sustainable energy economy. The Institute unites researchers from the disciplines of engineering, natural sciences, law, business, urban and regional planning, geography and economics to

address sustainability and alternative power issues in the context of global climate change.


Editor: Melanie Simmons, Ph.D. at 

Associate Editor: Carolyn Sims at 

Contributors: Michael Willinger and Chrislande Dorcilus 

FSU IESES Newsletter


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