First Advisor

Craig Shinn

Term of Graduation

Spring 2022

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Affairs and Policy


Public Affairs and Policy





Physical Description

1 online resource (xiii, 398 pages)


Despite the international consensus that climate change is a problem, few substantive policies are being pushed forward at the national level to meet international greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement. The most significant climate change policies are emerging at state public utility commissions (PUCs). While PUCs were traditionally structured to regulate utilities, state PUCs are now finding themselves at the hub for renewable energy, clean energy, and distributed energy policies. Despite the increase in renewable and clean energy policies at state PUCs, there is a noticeably small environmental and clean energy stakeholder presence at those PUC proceedings. A similar gap is reflected in the state interest group and regulatory literatures, as most scholarship has focused on federal regulatory agencies and industry influence.

Based on the lack of knowledge of environmental and clean energy interest group participation and influence at state PUCs, this study seeks to answer two interrelated questions. First, what participatory mechanisms lead to greater levels of influence among environmental and clean energy groups at public utility commissions? Second, what effect do the social dynamics among stakeholder groups have on shaping a stakeholder's ability to be influential?

This dissertation advances a new model of access points and stakeholder influence. The model proposes that participatory and inclusive mechanisms throughout the PUC stakeholder process can provide distinct access points for environmental and clean energy interest groups. These access points can shape their ability to influence the rulemaking process and their behaviors towards other stakeholders. The benefits from an inclusive stakeholder framework can carry over to subsequent proceedings in which stakeholders can, at a minimum, have a mutual understanding of important issues and, ideally, mutually beneficial relationships with one another.

This dissertation approaches the methodology in two phases. For the first phase of the methods, Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is employed. This dissertation utilizes QCA to examine stakeholder access points across energy storage proceedings at state PUCs in California, Oregon, Nevada, New York, and Virginia. The second phase of this dissertation's methodology analyzes interviews with stakeholders involved in Oregon's energy storage proceeding. The coding software NVivo is employed in conjunction with the qualitative approach, thematic analysis (TA), to examine stakeholders' perceived influence.

The QCA findings confirmed that the pre-proposal and the comment period were crucial access points for stakeholder influence. In addition, the QCA findings highlighted that environmental and clean energy stakeholders will be more influential when there are more inclusive opportunities. Inclusive access points provide greater opportunities for stakeholders to gain knowledge, coproduce important documents, and create issue and network linkages.

The findings from the interview analysis discovered that stakeholders construct their perceptions of influence based on implicit assessments of an individual's expertise, experience, group capacity, group reputation, and network. This dissertation encapsulates this phenomenon in the model of implicit influence. The model of implicit influence explains how an individual's level of implicit influence can affect how others perceive them and subsequently, interact with them.

he dual models of access points and implicit influence provide meaningful contributions to the state regulatory literature and interest group literature regarding when, why, and to what extent stakeholders can be influential at state PUCs. In addition, the findings from this dissertation are important to ensuring that environmental and clean energy groups are being invited to the table and have equal opportunities to shape the content of PUC proceedings. It is through these institutional changes that environmental and clean energy groups can begin to advance energy policy that supports climate change goals.


© 2022 Genevieve Theresa Kruse

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