This interdisciplinary course will introduce students to the legal, business, and technical facets of energy development and entrepreneurship. The course is structured around five potential development sites—two wind development projects (a coastal and a north Texas site), a west Texas solar project, and two natural gas combined-cycle plants (a new combined heat and power plant in Houston and a conventional plant in San Antonio). The key stages of project development will be covered, including site selection, life cycle 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, and engineering to develop a project proposal based on a mix of renewables 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 corporate investment panel, which will be made up of local energy experts. Course evaluation will be based on class participation, a preliminary project memo, and the final team presentation and project prospectus.