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Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental and Energy Policy (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Social Sciences

Advisor 1

Chelsea L. Schelly

Advisor 2

Roman V. Sidortsov

Committee Member 1

Mark D. Roulaeau

Committee Member 2

Sarah A. Green


Electricity is projected to become the predominant form of energy carrier by 2050, and all major energy services will directly or indirectly depend on electricity. Intermittent renewable electricity (RE) generation technologies will likely serve as the primary means for the transition. For this reason, tackling the intermittency of RE technologies and energy storage requirements for balancing generation from intermittent sources with energy demand is considered a key element in supporting this energy transition. Pumped Underground Storage Hydro (PUSH) is one energy storage technology that could provide the required support for the RE transition. This dissertation studies PUSH comprehensively by including social dimensions in current predominant techno-economic models of valuing energy technologies.

The dissertation focuses on integrating the energy justice concept in the energy transition to explore the role of the novel application of PUSH when developed in abandoned mines as an electricity storage technology participating in the restructured/liberalized electricity markets. To achieve the stated objective, the dissertation answers the following overarching research question: What are the energy justice implications of deploying Pumped Underground Storage Hydro (PUSH) developed in abandoned underground mines for supporting the energy transition in liberalized or restructured electricity markets in the U.S. states?

As a whole, the dissertation demonstrates that to achieve energy transition that does not exacerbate the same systemic social injustice present in fossil fuel-based energy system, justice dimensions should be incorporated into energy system design. This research provides an energy justice framework for policymakers to inform the participation of novel technologies such as PUSH in the electricity market. The dissertation further provides evidence that the lack of policies based on ethical considerations in the electricity market design exacerbates energy service crises. Electricity markets require an ethical framework for designing and valuing technologies participating in the liberalized/restructured electricity market.