Jesse Buchsbaum

Jesse Buchsbaum

Postdoctoral Scholar in Economics

University of Chicago Energy & Environment Lab


I am a Postdoctoral Scholar at University of Chicago’s Energy & Environment Lab. I completed my doctorate in agricultural and environmental economics, from the University of California Berkeley. I have research interests in energy and environmental economics, industrial organization, and applied econometrics.


  • Energy and environmental economics
  • Industrial organization
  • Applied econometrics


  • PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics, 2022

    University of California Berkeley

  • MS in Agricultural and Resource Economics, 2019

    University of California Berkeley

  • BS in Economics and Mathematics, 2015

    University of Michigan

Working Papers

Power System Decarbonization Policies: How Good is Second-Best?

The U.S. power system faces a 2035 decarbonization target though the exact pathway to the target remains unclear. Policy instruments, like carbon taxes and forcing coal plants to retire through various mechanisms, could help achieve the target. It is critical to understand and compare the performances of these policies as adoption of any such policy could lead to significant costs, different emissions pathways, and political challenges. In this paper, we explore the ramifications of adopting a ‘‘second-best’’ decarbonization policy. Specifically, we assume a particular carbon tax to be the ‘‘optimal’’ policy and compare it to ‘‘suboptimal’’ carbon tax and forced coal retirement policies in terms of emissions and costs. We use a power system dispatch model that co-optimizes unit commitment, energy, and regulation capacity to simulate system evolution over multiple years, including retirements and renewables/storage expansion, under each policy scenario. Our case study highlights the trade-offs between ‘‘optimal’’ and ‘‘suboptimal’’ policies. We find that ‘‘suboptimal’’ carbon taxes could achieve similar emissions results because, counter-intuitively, higher carbon taxes do not always achieve more emission reductions due to the complexity of dispatch and retirements. In contrast, forced coal retirements result in lower costs but higher emissions than the ‘‘optimal’’ policy, with a large range of possible outcomes across different retirement cases.


Average instructor rating: 6.7/7

ENVECON 235: Regulation of Energy and the Environment

GSI: Winter 2021