Institutional Void and Stakeholder Leadership: Implementing Renewable Energy Standards in Minnesota

  • Adam R. FremethEmail author
  • Alfred A. Marcus


Many state-level policies in the United States have been adopted in an effort to reduce carbon emissions, reduce exposure to fuel price volatility, and encourage economic development by creating a renewable energy industry. Experience with such instruments, however, has been mixed. In this chapter, we argue that a series of obstacles prevent a single actor to take the lead in designing the rules necessary to fill the institutional void that is created by the introduction of novel command and control energy policies. Using case study evidence from the state of Minnesota, we find that the collective action problem we describe in this chapter tends to impede the implementation of renewable portfolio standards despite the new and additional certainty that has been provided by a legislated mandate.


Renewable Energy Wind Power Collective Action Problem Energy Information Administration Dominant Firm 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank the many individuals and organizations that contributed their time to the development of this chapter. This includes representatives at Xcel Energy, NAVITAS, Great River Energy, MISO, The Izaak Walton League, Minnesota Public Utility Commission, and the Minnesota Office of Energy Security. The chapter has benefited from the comments at the University of Minnesota, Yale University, Washington University, and Concordia University.


  1. Aldrich HE, Fiol M (1994) Fools rush in? Conditions affecting enterprenereurial strategies in new organizations. Acad Manage J 19: 645–670Google Scholar
  2. Brooks SL (2008) Xcel’s plan to store the wind. Pioneer Press. Feb 29, 2008: C1Google Scholar
  3. Bonavia P, president of the Utility Group at Xcel Energy (2008) Interview by author, 8 Feb. MinneapolisGoogle Scholar
  4. Cummins HJ (2008) And the wind waits…and waits… Star Tribune. Jan. 27, 2008: C1Google Scholar
  5. Connett G, director for Environmental Stewardship of Great River Energy (2008) Interview by author 17 June, MinneapolisCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cory KS, Swezey BG (2007) Renewable Portfolio Standards in the States: Balancing Goals and Rule. Electr J 20: 21–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davies W, director of Development at NAVITAS (2008) Interview by author, 30 June, St. PaulGoogle Scholar
  8. Delmas M, Russo MV, Montes-Sancho MJ (2007) Deregulation and environmental differentiation in the electric utility industry. Strateg Manage J 28: 189–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dowrkin M, Farnsworth D, Rich J, Klotz JS (2006) Revisiting the Environmental Duties of Public Utility Commissions. Vt. J Environ Law 7: 1–69Google Scholar
  10. Energy Information Administration (EIA) (1999) Renewable Energy 1998: Issues and Trends. (DOE/EIA-0628(98) Washington. U.S. Department of EnergyGoogle Scholar
  11. Energy Information Administration, Renewable Energy Annual 2005 and Database of Status Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. Accessed March 13, 2008
  12. Fremeth AR, Holburn GLF (2012) Information Asymmetries and Regulatory Decision Costs: An Analysis of Electric Utility Rate Changes 1980-2000. J Law Econ Organ (forthcoming)Google Scholar
  13. Garvey E, director of Minnesota Office of Energy Security (2008) Interview by author, 6 May, St. PaulGoogle Scholar
  14. Grant B, associate executive director of the Izaak Walton League of America – Midwest Office (2009) Interview by author, 13 Feb. St. PaulGoogle Scholar
  15. Haar B, executive director of the Minnesota Public Utility Commission (2007) Interview by author, 25 Sept. St. PaulGoogle Scholar
  16. Khanna T, Palepu K (2000) Is Group Affiliation Profitable in Emerging Markets? An Analysis of Diversified Indian Business Groups. J Finance 55: 867–891CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. King A, Lenox M (2000) Industry self-regulation without sanctions: The chemical industry’s responsible care program. Acad Manage J 43: 698–716CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lyon TP, Mayo JW (2005) Regulatory opportunism and investment behavior: Evidence from the US electric utility industry. RAND J Econ 36: 628–644Google Scholar
  19. Moeller C, vice president of MISO (2008) Interview by author, 21 July, St. PaulGoogle Scholar
  20. Murtha TP, Lenway SA, Hart JA (2001) Managing New Industry Creation. Stanford UP: Palo AltoGoogle Scholar
  21. Nogee A, Deyette J, Clemmer S (2007) The Projected Impacts of a National Renewable Portfolio Standard. Electr J 20: 33–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. North DC (1990) Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance. Cambridge University Publishers, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Olson M (1965) The Logic of collective action. Harvard University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Russo MV (2001) Institutions, exchange relations, and the emergence of new fields: Regulatory policies and independent power production in America, 1978-1992. Adm Sci Q 46: 57–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sharma S, Henriques, I (2005) Stakeholder influences on sustainability practices in the Canadian forest products industry. Strateg Manage J 26: 159–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sine W, David, R (2003) Environmental jolts, institutional change, and the creation of entrepreneurial opportunity in the US electric power industry. Res Policy 32: 185–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Smith D. Prairie Island: A nuclear fight full of fear (1994) Star Tribune. Apr 3, 1994: A1Google Scholar
  28. Stachura S (2009) High-voltage power lines could criss-cross Minnesota. Minnesota Public Radio. Accessed 25 February 2009
  29. Sparby D, president and CEO of Northern States Power (2008) Interview by author, 6 Feb. MinneapolisGoogle Scholar
  30. Turnure J, environmental manager at NSP (2007) Interview by author, 7 Sept. MinneapolisGoogle Scholar
  31. Xcel Energy (2007) Renewable Energy Plan. MinneapolisGoogle Scholar
  32. Yao DA (1987) Strategic responses to automobile emissions control: A game-theoretic analysis. J Environ Econ Manage 15: 419–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Richard Ivey School of BusinessUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Carlson School of ManagementUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

Personalised recommendations