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School of Economics

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SOE partners with Bates, Bowdoin and Colby to sponsor the second annual Maine Economics Conference

The conference took place at Colby College; more than 40 economists from across the state gathered to learn about the latest economic research, and establish and renew ​​collaborations with other Maine scholars. The conference also included a poster session featuring research by students from Bowdoin, Bates, Colby, and the University of Maine.

The conference was organized by faculty from all four schools.  Three faculty members from SOE presented their latest research and four SOE graduate students presented poster sessions:

Eva Manandhar: “Message Framing and People’s Perception about Wind Power in Maine”

Johanna Barrett: “Muncipality-Level Characteristics of Local Food Exchanges in Maine”

Sandra Goff: “Do Dollars Degrade Sustainability Norms? An Experiment to Assess the Effect of Economic Valuation Information on Pro-Environmental Behavior”

Steven Dutra: “Economic Feasibility of Distributed Solar Water Heating in Maine”

For more information about the conference and poster sessions, please click on the link here.

School of Economics Professors and Students attend Maine Water and Sustainability Conference

  Kay Mann of Green Energy Maine wrote about the event held:

“On April 1, 2014, Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative at the Senator George J. Mitchell Center presented a daylong session on “Maine’s Energy Future” at the 2014 Maine Water & Sustainability Conference, held at the Augusta Civic Center. The Chair of the session was Dr. Caroline Noblet, University of Maine School of Economics.

This session examined Maine’s energy future and the different options and strategies being proposed and implemented to further the state’s energy security. Presentations included research and applications related to the economic, environmental and social impacts of: renewable energy technologies under development in Maine including tidal, off-shore wind and bioenergy; the transition from reliance on oil; the role of efficiency in lowering energy needs and the potential for using Maine’s biomass and waste stream.”

You can read about various  presentations at

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Grad student Stephanie Whalley selected to speak at sold out TEDxUMaine 2014 The Student Experience.

Stephanie’s talk is titled: “Toward a Sustainable Energy Future: A Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis of Electricity Options for the United States.”

Abstract: The term “sustainability” has become a popular catch phrase in recent years. Many recent definitions of sustainability emphasize the importance of meeting growing energy needs of both present and future generations while addressing social, environmental, economic and technological limitations. The electric power sector is the single largest consumer of primary energy in the United States, making the sustainability of the sector an essential component of national sustainability goals. Some researchers have compared technologies based on one measure of sustainability such as land or water use, emissions, or cost but very few have attempted to compare multiple electricity generating technologies across many criteria spanning the four main areas of sustainability. Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) is a unique tool that allows multiple measures to be included and weighted and results in an overall ranking of technologies. This research uses MCDA to compare the sustainability of 13 commercially available electricity generating technologies in the United States using the criteria of job creation, the levelized cost of energy, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, land use, and capacity factor (the amount of electricity generated in a year divided by the maximum electricity that could be generated based on the facility rating). The resulting sustainability ranking is a helpful summary tool for analyzing the overall sustainability of electricity generating technologies which can be useful for policy making.

Elyse Doyle, SOE undergrad, spent last summer on a wind energy internship

Elyse contacted and surveyed over 400 Maine businesses to build an online supply-chain database for future wind developers.  She also created a monthly, “wind energy in Maine,” newsletter for industry members and the public, and gave wind presentations to elementary age students.  Finally, she presented her elementary school presentation to teachers from around the world who attended College of the Atlantic’s summer course focused on how to teach about wind energy in the classroom.  We are happy to say that Elyse is now an SOE graduate student.

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Undergraduate Garret Sullivan Returns from Russia

Garrett spent last semester as an intern in the Economics section of the United States Embassy in Moscow, Russia.  Garrett: created presentations for the Ambassador on various topics, researched key Russian political figures, proofread and performed research for speeches given by embassy officials, and served as a note taker for a variety of diplomatic meetings. He learned to be highly adaptable as each day presented a new and interesting scenario. Though most business at the embassy was conducted in English, he spoke almost exclusively Russian outside of work.

Proposed 4 + 1 program for the School of Economics is approved

The 4 + 1 program will recruit many of our best SOE undergraduate students into the SOE graduate program, while saving them time and money.  Juniors accepted into the highly competitive program will start taking graduate courses during their junior and senior years, and be able to count those courses for both their undergrad and grad degrees. The 4 + 1 effectively halves the time it takes the student to earn the masters degree.

For more information: ECO 4+1 Program

Student Profile: Study Abroad During Summer

This past summer I spent 6 weeks studying in Granada, Spain, and I can say without a thread of doubt that it was one of the scariest, but most rewarding decisions I have ever made. To give you a little background information, I have always had a weak spot for the Spanish language; I fell in love with it at the young age of 11 when I first began studying it in grade school. Now, here I am, almost ten years later, more fascinated than ever before with the language and everything that it represents.  When I decided to attend the University of Maine, I also decided that I would pick up a Spanish minor. I did this – not only because it made perfect sense and would give me an edge in the business world – which I would eventually be joining, but also because I was not even remotely ready to give up on my dream of being able to speak two languages fluently. I deeply felt that I needed to complete a minor – to prove to myself that I had what it took to dedicate myself to a whole different culture and way of life.                

Something I did not expect, however, was how hard it was going to be for me to complete this minor as well as all my other desired degrees if I were to spend a semester abroad, as I also am pursuing a double major in Economics and Ecology and Environmental Science, with a concentration in Sustainability, Environmental Policy, and Natural Resource Management as well as a minor in Renewable Energy Policy. It became clear to me that because I did not have enough room in my academic years to spend an entire semester abroad, I was going to have to go for a summer.  I found the perfect program in Granada, Spain, where I would take 6 credits worth of intensive Spanish – the perfect fit for me, as all I needed was another 6 credits to finish my minor, and intensive language classes were exactly what I wanted to work towards my goal of becoming  fluent in the language.

So I packed my bags and flew to Spain, and it was undoubtedly the best summer of my life. Granada, where I lived, is a small southern Spain city, where most people do not speak or understand English- including my host family! I was only an hour bus ride away from the beautiful Spanish coast, as well as the breath taking Sierra Nevada mountain range. While in Granada I took classes five hours a day five days a week.  I was studying the proper grammar of the language, but at the same time taking conversation classes during which we were forced to use our Spanish to talk about everyday topics as well as current events.

The highlight of my experience, however, happened outside the classroom. I volunteered 3 days a week at a local orphanage, where I taught English lessons to children that ranged from ages 4-11. Although I was there to teach them, I always walked away feeling that they had been the ones teaching me – not just about the Spanish language, but about life. It’s not possible to put into words the feeling I got when I watched the face of one little girl named Maria who I became quite close with, light up when I would tell her she had done a great job reading a book to me. It was in that orphanage that I was truly forced to put my Spanish to the test again and again, and it was in that orphanage where I grew the most as a person.

From the bottom of my heart, I truly feel that studying abroad results in life experience that you cannot gain any other way. When you are on your own in a country that is new and undiscovered to you, every hour of every day is an adventure. The self-confidence you gain from knowing that you willingly chose to walk straight into the unknown, and you conquered that unknown, is completely irreplaceable. 


Image Description: Spain Abroad Host Mom

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Image Description: Spain Abroad kids

Dr. Sharon Klein gets new publication accepted

Life Cycle Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Water and Land Use for Concentrated Solar Power Plants with Different Energy Backup Systems; by Sharon J.W. Klein and Edward S. Rubin

Concentrated solar power (CSP) is unique among intermittent renewable energy options because for the past four years, utility-scale plants have been using an energy storage technology that could allow CSP plants to operate as a base-load energy generator . No study has directly compared the environmental implications of this technology with more conventional CSP backup energy options. We compare the life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water consumption, and direct, onsite land use associated with electricity production from CSP plants with wet and dry cooling and with three energy backup systems: 1) minimal backup (MB), 2) molten salt thermal energy storage (TES), and 3) a natural gas-fired heat transfer fluid heater (NG). Plants with NG had 4-9 times more GHG emissions than TES plants, and TES plants had twice as many GHG emissions as MB plants. Dry cooling reduced water consumption by 71-78% compared to wet cooling. Larger backup capacities had greater water consumption while NG plants had lower land use impacts.


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School of Economics
5782 Winslow Hall, Room 206
Orono, ME 04469
Phone: (207) 581-3154 | Fax: (207) 581-4278E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System