This interdisciplinary course will introduce students to the legal, business, and technical facets of energy development and entrepreneurship. The course is structured around four potential development sites—two wind development projects (a coastal and a west Texas site) and two high-efficiency natural gas combined-cycle plants (a new build in Houston and an existing plant in San Antonio). The key stages of project development will be covered, including site selection, lifecycle analysis, due diligence, permitting, contracting, and financing. The case studies are designed (1) to provide real-world conditions for understanding project development, (2) to allow students to engage in practical problem solving, and (3) to enable government policies to be evaluated in context. Course work will be complemented by regular discussions with leading experts in the utility and renewable-energy sectors.
Students will work in interdisciplinary teams of graduate students from law, business, public affairs, and engineering to develop a project proposal based on a mix of wind and natural gas generation. In addition to short exercises during the semester (e.g., negotiations, financial modeling, technical analysis), each student team will prepare a project prospectus and presentation on the technical, business, and legal aspects of their project proposal. The course will culminate with each team presenting their proposal to a panel of putative investors, who will be represented by local energy experts. Course evaluation will be based on class participation, in-class exercises, a preliminary project memo, and the final team presentation and project prospectus.