Matthew Oliver

Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs

Member Of:
  • School of Economics
Office Location:
Old CE Building, Room 223


Matthew E. Oliver hails from Memphis, TN. He received his bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Memphis in 2008, and his PhD in Economics from the University of Wyoming in 2013.  His primary fields of expertise are energy economics, environmental and natural resource economics, and industrial organization and regulation. Dr. Oliver’s research interests focus primarily on the regulation of energy resources and energy infrastructure. Much of his past work has dealt with natural gas markets and interstate pipelines. More recently, his research has focused on the market effects of rapid deployment of renewable energy technologies (e.g., wind and solar photovoltaics). Additionally, he has published (and ongoing) research on other topics such as the links between energy resource development, environment, and economic growth, and the economics of climate change. Since joining Georgia Tech in 2013, Dr. Oliver has taught various courses in energy and environmental economics, microeconomics, and macroeconomics.

  • Ph.D., University of Wyoming
  • B.A., University of Memphis
Research Fields:
  • Applied Econometrics
  • Applied Microeconomics
  • Economic Sustainability
  • Energy Economics
  • Environmental Economics
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • International Development
  • Infrastructure
Courses Taught:
  • ECON-2105: Prin of Macroeconomics
  • ECON-2106: Prin of Microeconomics
  • ECON-3110: Adv Microeconomic Analys
  • ECON-3300: Intl Energy Markets
  • ECON-4440: Economics of Environment
  • ECON-6105: Macroeconomics
  • ECON-6380: Economic of Environment
  • ECON-7012: Microeconomic Theory I
  • ECON-7102: Environmental Econ I

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

  • Framework for assessment of the direct rebound effect for residential photovoltaic systems
    In: Applied Energy [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: October 2019

    Over the past two decades the market for residential rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems has grown substantially due mainly to declining costs—a trend that is expected to continue. One drawback of PV system diffusion is the potential for a rebound effect, a well-known economic response through which potential energy savings are partially offset by increased demand resulting from lower energy costs. Our work differs from the existing literature, however, because the rebound effect associated with the adoption of rooftop PV is due not to an improvement in energy efficiency, but to the availability of a zero-marginal cost alternative to grid electricity. This paper develops a novel method for estimating the rebound effect for rooftop PV based on economic and geographic information systems modeling. The method is illustrated through a numerical example, using neighborhood-level data from Fulton County, Georgia, USA. We discuss possible applications of our proposed method, which include (i) enhancing the predictive capability for conventional power grid managers in balancing forecasted demand with dispatchable supply, and (ii) aiding policy makers in designing policies to mitigate the rebound effect associated with solar PV adoption.

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  • Renewable generation capacity and wholesale electricity price variance
    In: The Energy Journal [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: September 2019

    The share of electric power generated from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar must increase dramatically in the coming decades if greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced to sustainable levels. An under-researched implication of such a transition in competitive wholesale electricity markets is that greater wind and solar generation capacity directly affects wholesale price variability. In theory, two counter-vailing forces should be at work. First, greater wind and solar generation capacity should reduce short-run variance in the wholesale electricity price due to a stochastic merit-order effect. However, increasing the generation capacity of these technologies may increase price variance due to an intermittency effect. Using an instrumental variables identification strategy to control for endogeneity, we find evidence that greater combined wind and solar generation capacity is associated with an increase in the quarterly variance of wholesale electricity prices. That is, the intermittency effect dominates the stochastic merit-order effect.

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  • Pricing flexibility under rate-of-return regulation: Effects on network infrastructure investment
    In: Economic Modelling [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: May 2019

    When a commodity market relies upon a regulated network service industry—e.g., telecommunications, electricity, or natural gas transmission—economic efficiency in that commodity market is a crucial consideration for regulatory design. This is because insufficient infrastructure investment relative to network demand results in congestion. The extraction of associated rents has distortionary effects on commodity spot market prices. Greater regulatory flexibility in network pricing can alleviate such issues by cultivating the incentives needed for stakeholders to invest in transmission capacity. To illustrate this effect I derive and numerically solve stylized optimality conditions for access and usage prices for a gas pipeline operator under alternative regulatory models. My results have general implications for regulation in network infrastructure industries, as energy and telecommunications markets are expected to expand considerably over the coming decades.

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  • Natural Gas Pipeline Regulation in the United States: Past, Present, and Future
    In: Foundations & Trends in Microeconomics [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: June 2018

    This monograph provides a detailed overview of federal-level regulation of the U.S. interstate natural gas pipeline industry. To develop a more complete understanding of the current regulatory environment, we place contemporary rules and regulations into their proper historical context by first reviewing the evolution of gas pipeline regulation over the course of the 20th Century. We then discuss the market restructuring process that culminated in 1992 with FERC Order No. 636, review the economic and policy research that studied its effects on pipeline operations (and on the U.S. natural gas market writ large), and examine the current regulations and industry structure that have since emerged. Finally, we explore possibilities for the future of regulation in the gas pipeline industry, offering some predictions regarding the likely direction of regulatory changes, paying particular attention to the possibility of incentive-based regulation in natural gas transmission.

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  • Taming Drillers through Legislative Action: Evidence from Pennsylvania's Shale Gas Industry
    In: Resource and Energy Economics [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: November 2017

    In 2012 Pennsylvania amended its Oil and Gas Act to tighten regulations on development of shale gas resources. Three key pecuniary provisions were annual well fees, increased bonding requirements, and higher penalty limits for violations. We analyze the effects of these mandates on well operator behavior using data on well operations and inspections over the period 2000-2013. After deriving theoretical predictions, we empirically examine each provision’s effect on firm behavior in two aspects: (i) acquisition of new well permits, and (ii) regulatory violations. Overall, we find the amendments induced firms to acquire fewer permits and elevate environmental protection effort. 

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  • Economies of Scale and Scope in Expansion of the U.S. Natural Gas Pipeline Network
    In: Energy Economics [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: November 2015

    I analyze cost, capacity, mileage, and technical data for 254 U.S. natural gas pipeline projects over the period 1997–2012. Although project costs exhibit economies of scale over the capacity margin and economies of scope over the spatial margin, network expansion costs may not exhibit cost economies overall. That is, proportional increases in both transmission capacity and length (in miles) may result in a proportional (or even greater-than-proportional) increase in expansion costs. Moreover, large projects (high-capacity pipelines spanning long distances) likely require installation of compression horsepower, which has direct cost effects. My results suggest such projects exhibit significant diseconomies in cost structure. As a result, pipeline tariffs based on cost-of-service pricing likely present a disincentive for prospective pipeline customers to commit to long-term contracts—which are necessary for the pipeline to acquire regulatory permission to build—particularly for large, long-distance expansion projects. The implication is that cost-of-service pricing may inhibit network expansion, exacerbating congestion issues.

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