Breaking Energy Path Dependencies

47 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2017 Last revised: 18 Oct 2017

See all articles by Amy L. Stein

Amy L. Stein

University of Florida Levin College of Law

Date Written: August 3, 2017


Clean energy development faces an uphill battle. Scholars and policymakers have spent extensive time identifying the barriers to clean energy development, including the intermittency of clean energy resources, the lack of a framework for capturing the externalities of energy sources, the need for more transmission infrastructure, and the lack of a utility business model that comports with efficiency and self-generation. Beyond these barriers, clean energy development must combat over one hundred years of institutional “stickiness” associated with the legal and regulatory framework governing energy derived from fossil fuels.

This article explores how path dependency theories can inform the practical legal efforts to overcome such stickiness and identifies the troublesome approaches to energy problems, decision rules, and relationships governing energy law that are perpetuating the fossil fuel energy industry. Additionally, it sets forth a new framework for facilitating an evolution in logic and creating positive feedback mechanisms to propel clean energy out of its sticky history and into a more fluid twenty-first century.

Keywords: path dependency, energy, critical junctures, institutional logic, decision rules, renewable energy, clean energy

Suggested Citation

Stein, Amy L., Breaking Energy Path Dependencies (August 3, 2017). Brooklyn Law Review, Vol. 82, No. 559, 2017, University of Florida Levin College of Law Research Paper No. 17-26, Available at SSRN:

Amy L. Stein (Contact Author)

University of Florida Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States
352-273-0953 (Phone)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics