Analysis of US energy policy must be conducted on a regionalized, geographically realistic basis. Integration of advanced and low carbon energy technologies depends critically on geographical relationships, including those between:

  • renewable resources, electricity loads, and transmission capacity;
  • biomass production, transport and use; and
  • CO2 capture and sequestration sites.

Many energy technologies will require new or substantially upgraded infrastructure, and these needs must also be understood and modeled geographically. 

Increasingly states, multi-state regions, and the federal government are playing equally important and interacting roles in developing energy policy. Many states have adopted energy and climate policies, including renewable energy portfolio standards, energy efficiency resource standards, electric vehicle incentives, and many others. 

At the federal level, designing energy policy requires taking into account regional variations in policy impacts, which depend on existing electricity generation technology mix; available renewable and fossil resources; and state and regional climate, energy, and environmental policies.

Generation mix and trade flows between FACETS electricity regions

FACETS is built with a unique, flexible multi-region structure to capture these key relationships and make the best, most transparent use of source data. Each sector is modeled within its own set of native regions that reflect relevant physical, economic, and policy distinctions. Coal supplies come from coal basins, electricity generation takes place within 134 balancing areas, wind resources are modeled within 356 resource regions, and end-use demands occur at the state level. At each level, trade matrices control flows of energy within and between sets of regions, reflecting infrastructure limitations and the costs of each transmission link.

The model is designed to be useful for policy analysis at the federal, regional, state, and local levels. All model data is tagged with location information, which is used to feed GIS-based results visualization tools. Power plant dispatch, fuel use, emissions, and retrofit results are tracked at the unit level, to support detailed analysis of air quality impacts.

At the global level, FACETS is designed to be run in conjunction with the Times Integrated Assessment Model (TIAM) global climate-energy model, to enable analysis of US policies within consistent global resource and carbon offset supply scenarios.