Stanford Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 38, 2019
46 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2019 Last revised: 6 Sep 2019
Date Written: July 3, 2019
Energy is key to our modern lives. Until recently, energy was generated by centralized utilities. That, however, is changing. Fundamental shifts in the generation and consumption of electricity are underway. In the age of “distributed generation,” when you and I can install solar panels on our roof and a battery in our garage, we are all part of the energy field. This Article argues that along with the blending of technological categories comes a shift in the legal categories as well. Energy law scholars have traditionally focused on the public law aspects of electricity production and consumption. This framework was indeed apt for the age of centralized energy. But in an era where electricity production is increasingly dispersed, looking at the energy field solely through the lens of public law misses the full picture. Focusing specifically on property law, the Article thus unearths the new property-energy connection that has emerged along with the rise of distributed generation. It then shows why policy-makers seeking to advance the adoption of distributed generation should pay attention, in addition to other things, to the underlying web of private law regimes.
Keywords: Energy, distributed energy, private law, property law, property rights, solar, rent
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