The Regional Research Institute occupies a unique position on the WVU campus. While limited in research staff, its activities and influence extend across a large number of disciplines, colleges and research units. The core research staff includes the Director, a Research Associate Professor, a Research Assistant Professor, a Post-doctoral Research Fellow, and several Graduate Research Assistants. All RRI staff members are expected to participate in external funding activities, including the preparation and submission of external funding proposals and the conduct of funded research. The RRI strives to include faculty from across campus in collaborative research proposals initiated in-house and also participates, whenever appropriate and possible, in initiatives centered elsewhere. Likewise, we seek to build relationships with researchers from other institutions, including continuing collaborations with scholars at other institutions, which have included the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie-Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Washington in Seattle, George Mason University, Florida International University, Pennsylvania State University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Arizona State University and the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Current Research Projects

An Economic Analysis of Appalachian Coal Industry Ecosystems

Researchers: Randall W Jackson (PI), Péter Járosi, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; Peter Schaeffer, Resource Management, West Virginia University; John Deskins, Eric Bowen, Christiadi, Brian Lego, Bureau of Business and Economic Research, West Virginia University.
Start Date: October 1, 2016
End Date: June 30, 2017
Funding Agency: ARC, $349,999

Project Summary:

The decline of the coal industry across Appalachia has crushed much of its economic activity. Alternative energy sources, increased environmental pressures, and mining technologies that operate with a reduced work force are behind this economic decline. West Virginia University’s Regional Research Institute in partnership with the University of Tennessee at Knoxville have been charged with examining the full ecosystem of the coal industry in Appalachia through in-depth quantitative analysis and have been awarded a $349,999 Appalachian Regional Commission for this study.

This diverse team includes economists, geographers, energy specialists, regional scientists, spatial econometricians, and data analysts who will  identify, quantify and map data on all relevant coal industry activity throughout the Appalachian Region.

The three major areas this research will examine are:  identifying all components of the coal ecosystem and estimating the supply chain impacts in Appalachia; examining the implications of the coal industry’s downturn on the area’s transportation; and developing a typology of regional economies that surround the coal-fired plants in the region using both econometric and input-oputput techniques.

The team will gather information on recent trends in coal production and employment in Appalachia to develop a foundation for analyzing the nature, geographic distribution and causes of coal’s decline, emphasizing the way in which losses in coal production and employment are regionally distributed. For each Appalachian county, the team will determine how employment and wages are affected by county CIE dependence scores, key suppliers and purchasers, county distress scores, county risk scores, and spatial vulnerability indices.

They will provide county specific estimates of how coal will affect long-run changes to freight transportation costs, provide a descriptive analysis of recent trends and current conditions in the electric power sector in Appalachia and develop a database of plant-level characteristics, assess the role of coal-fired power plants in the communities, identify risk factors for future coal plan retirements and re-powering, identify key demographic characteristics of the affected workforce so that programs and be designed to support worker transitions to re-employment or retirement, and prepare a detailed final report that integrates key research findings, complete with statistics, analyses, graphs, maps and tables, to provide a concise analytical framework to understand the development implications.

Economic Analysis of Energy Alternatives and Policies for WV

Researchers: Levan Elbakidze (PI) Agricultural and Resource Economics, West Virginia University and Randall Jackson, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University.
Start Date: May 19, 2016
End Date: May 31, 2017
Funding Agency: The Nature Conservancy, $99,955

Project Summary:

As the United States transitions to a low carbon future, there is a need to determine what policies, programs, or projects will create economic benefits for the state of West Virginia and its people while also minimizing environmental impact. To do this, The Nature Conservancy is contracting with West Virginia University to perform a study to examine energy efficiency, solar energy, the use of natural gas to encourage solar energy, and forest carbon offset policies, programs, and projects. Some of the areas that will be examined include: strengthening or expanding current work in West Virginia to support energy audits and industrial, commercial, small business, and/or residential energy efficiency investments; advancing actions to remove barriers to businesses benefiting from energy efficiency and renewable energy; investing in employing more widely energy innovations and new technologies; encouraging and expanding the use of clean energy technologies; using natural gas to encourage or accelerate renewables; advancing distributed generation; advancing large scale forest restoration and conservation; and establishing a “green bank” to attract private investments in renewables, energy efficiency, and/or forest carbon.

West Virginia University – Support for the International Forum on Unconventional Gas Sustainability and the Environment (INFUSE)

Researchers:Tim Carr (PI) Geology and Geography, West Virginia University; Randall Jackson, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; Paul Ziemkiewicz, National Research Center for Coal and Energy Environmental Technology, West Virginia University; Shawn Grushecky, Natural Resources and Design Forestry and Natural Resources, West Virginia University; Shikha Sharma, Geology and Geography, West Virginia University; Thomas Wilson, Geology and Geography, West Virginia University; Michael Mccawley, Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences, West Virginia University; Kashy Aminian, Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, West Virginia University; Ali Takbiri Borujeni, Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, West Virginia University; Ebrahim Fathi,Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, West Virginia University.
Start Date: September 23, 2015
End Date: September 30, 2017
Funding Agency: US Department of State $750,000

Project Summary:

Because of increasing interest in natural gas development both in the U.S. and worldwide, the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources has reached a cooperative agreement with WVU to create the International Forum on Unconventional Gas Sustainability and the Environment, or INFUSE, a unique technical program dedicated to increasing other countries’ understanding of best practices for unconventional gas resource development through a mix of classroom and in the field activities. More information.

Marcellus Shale Energy Environmental Laboratory (MSEEL)

Researchers: WVU and The Ohio State University
Start Date: November 2014
End Date: Ongoing (5 year project)
Funding Agency: DOE/NETL and Northeast Natural Energy $11M (WVU total)

Project Summary:

This information is taken from WVUToday.

“As the Appalachian Region feels the impact of the burgeoning shale-energy industry, a consortium of researchers and industrial partners led by West Virginia University, with the assistance of The Ohio State University, will conduct the first-ever long-term, comprehensive field study of a natural resource that has changed the country’s – and the world’s – energy supply. The team will identify and demonstrate technologies required for best practices in environmentally responsible shale development, from drilling to completion through production. The U.S. Department of Energy will allow the research team to create and manage the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory, a field site and dedicated research laboratory at the Morgantown Industrial Park. The Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory will allow the team to address critical gaps of knowledge of the characterization, basic subsurface science, and completion and stimulation strategies that enable more efficient resource recovery from fewer wells with reduced environmental impact. The primary objectives of the project include providing a long-term research site with an existing well and documented production and environment baseline from two previously completed wells. A dedicated scientific-observation well will be used to collect detailed subsurface data and to monitor and test technologies in additional wells to be drilled periodically over the project lifetime. The site also offers a unique opportunity to enable an open, collaborative and integrated program of science and technology development and testing to minimize environmental impacts while maximizing economic benefits.”

West Virginia Early Childhood Obesity Program

Researchers: Susan Partington (PI), Donald Lacombe, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; Emily Murphy, Department of Pediatrics, West Virginia University; Elaine Bowen, Extension Service, West Virginia University; Lesley Cottrell, WV Prevention Research Center, West Virginia University; and Gianfranco Piras, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University

Start Date: February 1, 2011
End Date: Ongoing
Funding Agency: United States Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture, $4.7M (RRI Share $723,519)

Project Summary:

Establishing environments that promote healthy eating and physical activity behaviors in early childhood may have a significant impact on future obesity risk. West Virginia University in collaboration with West Virginia Head Start, Monongalia County and Kanawha County Public Schools, and Choosy Kids, LLC will implement a five-year project to: (1) examine environmental and behavioral determinants of childhood obesity, (2) use the knowledge base generated by this research to construct, implement, and assess multilevel childhood obesity prevention initiatives, and (3) empower parents, teachers, students, and community members by providing learning experiences and resources to make home, school, and community environments child healthy. Specific project components will include assessment of the community, school, and home environments for nutrition and physical activity, development and implementation of nutrition and physical activity programs in pre-kindergarten classrooms, events to teach family focused healthy eating and physical activity, and mini-grants to promote changes in the community to support overall health and wellness. The study will follow preschool children and their families through second grade to track the program’s effectiveness in changing food and physical activity behaviors. More information.

Research Projects Completed in 2016

Comprehensive Update & Revision of ECIO Documentation & Manual

Researchers: Randall Jackson (PI), Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University

Start Date: February 2015
End Date: DJune 30, 2016
Funding Agency: NETL, $74,726

Project Summary:

WVU has developed the Econometric Input Output (ECIO) model for NETL under previous studies. The objective and scope of this grant is to consolidate, streamline, finalize, and package the current version of the ECIO model and update its documentation and operating manuals.

Economic Modeling and Impact Assessments

Researchers: Randall W Jackson (PI), Péter Járosi, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University.
Start Date: July 1, 2016
End Date: September 30, 2016
Funding Agency: NETL, $50,874

Project Summary:

The Econometric Input-Output (ECIO) model is a time series enabled hybrid econometric input-output (IO) model that combines the capabilities of econometric modeling with the strengths of IO modeling. It is designed to facilitate the estimation of economic (specifically, employment and income) impacts of energy technology development, deployment, and operation over a forecast period consistent with the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) providing a consistent and comprehensive method for quantifying NETL’s programmatic impacts. More Information

Research Projects Completed in 2015

The Technology, Energy, Economy, and Environment (TEEE) Chain: Integrated Modeling for Technology Transition in Energy Rich Regions

Researchers: Hodjat Ghadimi (PI), Design and Landscape Architecture, West Virginia University; Randall W. Jackson, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; J. Wesley Burnett, Resource Management, West Virginia University;  Jerald Fletcher, Resource Management, West Virginia University

Start Date: August 1, 2012
End Date: July 31, 2015
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation (NSF) $335,930 (RRI Share $123,488)

Project Summary:

The transition to a sustainable clean energy future is one of the greatest challenges of this new century. Major economies are competing to dominate the emerging energy economy and government, regardless of their position on the plan-market spectrum, play a critical and distinctive role in driving technology development and adoption. In an increasingly interdependent world, the technology-energy-environment-economy (TEEE) interplay has profound implications for the world economy and presents very distinct analytical challenges both to engineers and social scientists. A thorough understanding of this complex system is vital for sustainable development at regional, national and global levels, and there is an urgent need for a comprehensive integrated framework for analyzing such engineering-economic systems. The proposed TEEE framework analyzes technology, energy, environment, and the economy in two important energy rich regions (ERRs) – West Virginia and Shanxi Province, China – and provides a comprehensive set of analytical tools for understanding the national and global consequences of interactions among these complex systems. This research will establish an engineering-based economic framework for an integrated analysis of the TEEE system by a multidisciplinary research team. More information.

Economic and Environmental Impacts of Increased Woody Biomass Utilization for Bioenergy Production on the Rural Communities of the Central Appalachian Region

Researchers:Jingxin Wang (PI), Hodjat Ghadimi, Design and Landscape Architecture, West Virginia University; Kaushlendra Singh, Design Forestry and Natural Resources, West Virginia University; Randall Jackson, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia; J. Wesley Burnett, Natural Resources and Design Resource Management, West Virginia University
Start Date: August 2, 2012
End Date: Ongoing
Funding Agency: United States Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture $349,952 (RRI Share $104,027)

Project Summary:

The central Appalachian region is one of the most economically depressed regions of the United States, but the region is rich in natural resources. The predominantly rural region has an economy that has been traditionally based on the extraction and use of natural resources. Coal which has been the primary industry for much of the region is now facing a period in which the availability of the resource is declining and there is growing concern about its continued use a fuel staple. For many of these communities, there is a need for the development of a new industry that will provide employment and boost the local and regional economy. The use of woody biomass may provide such an opportunity in this region. Our project is going to focus on the economic and environmental impacts of increased woody biomass utilization for liquid fuel production in the central Appalachian region. Specifically, the economic and environment impacts associated with the harvest, processing and utilization of woody biomass will be quantified and modeled; additionally, the interactions between the utilization process and the environmental and economic impacts will be examined. To accomplish this analysis we will develop a price and available quantity estimates based on spatial, topographic and potential harvesting systems; perform a lifecycle assessment to define the system processes and quantify the environmental impacts; utilize economic input/output models and computable general equilibrium models to determine the total impact increased biomass utilization will have on the economy in terms of job creation and economic growth. More information.

State of the Region: Examining Changes to the Appalachian Region Since 1965

Researchers: Randall Jackson (PI), Donald Lacombe, Gianfranco Piras, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; and John Deskins, Bureau of Business and Economic Research, West Virginia University; Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, Arlington, VA.

Start Date: November 1, 2013
End Date: February, 2015
Funding Agency: Appalachian Regional Commission $148,868 (RRI Share: $74,167)

Project Summary:

The project team will conduct an economic analysis of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s work, providing a narrative of the region’s progress since 1965. This includes all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Statistics show that 42 percent of the region’s population is rural, compared with 20 percent of the national population.

Together, the team brings nationally recognized expertise in regional quantitative and economic impact analysis, economic development policy design and implementation, economic development program evaluation, and local and regional economic development strategic planning. “This research, which will help identify which economic development strategies are most effective, and will ultimately help the ARC and others design stronger economic development strategies in the future,” said Dr. John Deskins, director of the BBER. Randy Jackson, director of the Regional Research Institute, said the project has appeal beyond the 13-state Appalachian Regional Commission region. “We have an opportunity here to assess and really develop a deep understanding of the tangible effects of regional economic development programs,” said Jackson. “Not only is this the ARC’s 50th anniversary, it’s also our own RRI 50th anniversary. Both organizations have been dedicated to regional economic development for a half century, so we are delighted to take part in this landmark study.” Specifically, the project will examine socioeconomic trends in Appalachia, analyze the economic impacts of numerous Appalachian Regional Commission economic development programs, and determine the perceptions of local stakeholders regarding past impacts and future directions of Appalachian Regional Commission programs.

Research Projects Completed in 2014

Employment and GDP Impacts of FE Coal R&D Technology Deployments

Researchers:  Randall Jackson (PI), Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University

Start Date:  May 22, 2014
End Date:  July 31, 2014
Funding Agency: NETL, $9,000.

Project Summary:

NETL has partnered with WVU to study the response of the United States economy to changes in the electricity markets. This has resulted in the development of the NETL-WVU Econometric Input-Output Model with the objective of estimating the economic and employment impacts of NETL’s technology development, deployment, and operation over a corresponding NEMS forecast period and to ultimately quantify NETL’s programmatic impacts with a consistent approach.

Benefits Analysis and Modeling

Researchers: Randall Jackson (PI), Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University

Start Date: October 18, 2013
Completion Date: November 14, 2014
Funding Agency: NETL, $68,157 (RRI Share $68,157)

Project Summary:

NETL has partnered with WVU through ESPAto study the response of the US economy to changes in the electricity markets. This has resulted in the development of the NETL-WVU Econometric Input-Output Model (NETL-WVU ECIO Modfel) with the objective of estimating the economic and employment impacts of NETL’s technology development, deployment, and operation over a corresponding NEMS forecast period, and to ultimately quantify NETL’s programmatic impacts with a consistent approach.

Research Projects Completed in 2013

Impacts Analysis Forecasting Using an Econometric Input-Output Model

Researchers: Randall Jackson (PI),Mulugeta Kahsai, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University

Start Date: August 24, 2012
End Date: October 31, 2013
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $100,620 (RRI Share $100,620)

Project Summary:

The objectives are to integrate net economic impacts from R&D cases by adapting the model to reflect the changes in the NEMS for non-coal based technologies and to integrate into the model the impacts from changes in the petroleum market due to the development of an EOR market that utilizes CO2 from carbon capture equipped power plants and industrial sources. This includes both changes in oil price as well as displacement of imports.

Carbon Capture Technology Export Market Assessment

Researchers: Randall Jackson (PI), Mulugeta Kahsai, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia

Start Date: May 1, 2013
Completion Date: October 31, 2013
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory,$16,000 (RRI Share $16,000)

Project Summary:

The objective of this study is to understand the economic benefits of past export markets for fossil energy technologies and quantify the possible benefits, both economic and environmental, or carbon capture technology exports.

General Benefits Support for Analysis that Support Multiple SCC R&D Programs

Researchers: Randall Jackson (PI), Mulugeta Kahsai, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia

Start Date: May 1, 2013
Completion Date:  October 31, 2013
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $8,500 (RRI Portion $8,500)

Project Summary:

The objective of this study is to support the Office of Program Planning and Analysis in conducting as-needed benefits analysis support for analyses that crosscut multiple R&D programs within the NETL’s Strategic Center for Coal. The type of support required will be consistent with the general scope of the ESPA SOW and will likely require quick-turnaround assignments. This activity encompasses both general benefits support and as-needed support directly related to the installation and ad-hoc exercising of the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS).

Incorporating Energy Price Changes and Regionalization in an ECIO Model

Researchers: Randall Jackson (PI), Mulugeta Kahsai, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia

Start Date: October 1, 2011
Completion Date: April 30, 2013
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $108,014 (RRI Share $108,014)

Project Summary:

The objective of this effort is to enhance a model that has been developed by OPPA to estimate the economic and employment impacts of NETL technology development, deployment, and operation over a corresponding NEMS forecast period, and to ultimately quantify NETL’s programmatic impacts with a consistent approach. The improved modeling framework will support limited input substation and price sensitivity response and a revised and streamlined interface to the data sources.

Research Projects Completed in 2012

Evaluation without Bias: New Performance Measures for Business Incubators in Rural America

Collaborative Researchers: Peter Schaeffer (PI), Division of Resource Management, West Virginia University; Randall W. Jackson, Junbo Yu, Mark Middleton, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; George Mason University; and Florida International University

Start Date: September 1, 2008
Completion Date: August 30, 2012
Funding Agency: United States Department of Agriculture’s National Research Initiative (NRI), $499,965 (RRI Share $499,965)

Project Summary:

The proposed integrated project demonstrates the importance of business incubation for entrepreneurship fostering and rural economic development. It shows that existing evaluation tools for business incubators are lacking and there have been numerous flawed attempts to evaluate incubator performance in the past. Moreover, it shows that there have been systematic and inherent biases against rural incubators in the way evaluation data have been interpreted with regard to rural business incubation programs where successful business formation and development are known to be considerably more difficult than in more urbanized areas. The research produces new and expanded tools and instruments for evaluating the performance of rural business incubators, specifically quantitative quasi-experimental and input-output measures and qualitative balanced scorecard measures. Major outputs of the integrated project include:

  1. An evaluation toolkit for business incubators. The toolkit will include a description of the problems rural incubators face, the methods for addressing these problems, and draft protocols (measurement instruments and instructions on their utilization) for evaluation of rural business incubators.
  2. A handbook for policy makers and practitioners in business incubation, entrepreneurship nurturing, and rural development. The policy handbook highlights the challenges and opportunities for rural incubators, develops generalizable, yet tailored, policy tools and action plans addressing identified challenges, and provides a strategic focus on the needs of the development of business incubators and quality entrepreneurship in the economically distressed areas.
  3. A new curriculum, which emphasizes the interconnection between entrepreneurship and rural development.

Research Projects Completed in 2011

Materials Flow Modeling in Sustainable Industrial Systems Urban Centers

Collaborative Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI) and Christa Jensen, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; Georgia Institute of Technology; and University of Washington

Start Date: September 15, 2006
Completion Date: August 31, 2011
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation, $160,714

Project Summary: Urban centers contain a significant and growing fraction of population and material and energy flows associated with the use and disposal of products. Re-engineering the flows of materials – particularly the patterns of their disposal – is critical to achieving sustainable systems within national boundaries, across international boundaries, and across generations. Yet, the urban landscape and population, and their associated material flows, have been underrepresented in models of sustainable industrial system growth. In developing models and tools to shape the next generation of industrial systems for materials mined from urban centers, the spatial distribution of these material resources must be integrated because successful design of sustainable systems cannot occur in a geographical vacuum. In recognition of the symbiotic material flow relationship between manufacturing companies and urban regions, this multi-disciplinary collaborative research effort will develop a framework for modeling and assessing the impact of redesigning urban materials flows to advance the mutual goals of sustainable industrial and urban systems. Our common focus is on mining specific products and associated materials from urban centers through new recycling networks and facilities for the Atlanta and Seattle metropolitan regions, and on modeling the economic development and environmental effects of different materials flow scenarios on these regions. In our work, we will connect Geographic Information Systems data to demographic data, to consumer behavior models, to product models with material information, to industrial recycling process models, to Input-Output and Social Accounting Matrix models, and to transportation and environmental impact assessment models. The resulting framework and models will be applied to evaluate specific techno-economic-policy scenarios of interest to the Cities of Atlanta and Seattle in carpet and electronics recycling in terms of material flows, transportation, economic development, and environmental impact. Recognizing the global need for such models and analysis systems, our work includes a problem-based international educational component focused on the dumping of electronic waste in Africa. We expect the research insights generated by this project will help in closing the significant gap in thinking on sustainability that has resulted from treating industrial systems separately for urban systems. Closing this gap is a necessary condition for fully mitigating the environmental impacts of industry. Outcomes will include improved modeling of material flows for the urban scale that will help in developing market-based collection and recycling systems, which take into account the impacts of consuming greenfields, inner city economic revitalization, and landfill reduction. Thus, this research is intended to encourage new manufacturing activity via waste diversion in distressed areas – a promising economic development strategy that promotes urban sustainability.

Employment Impact Analysis Using an Econometric Input-Output Model

Researchers: Randall Jackson (PI), Mulugeta Kahsai, Zheng Tian, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University

Start Date: May 12, 2010
Completion Date: August 31, 2011
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $209,363

Project Summary: The overall objectives of this effort are to develop a model that will facilitate capturing the economic and employment impacts of technology development, deployment and operation over a given forecast period and ultimately to quantify NETL’s programmatic impacts under an increasingly consistent approach. The new modeling framework will support price sensitivity, input substitution, and allow for the incorporation of new energy-producing sectors to more accurately portray the impact of technology development and deployment over time.

Support Analysis for Senate Bill 518

Researchers: Carl Irwin (PI), Kathleen Cullen, National Research enter for Coal and Energy, west Virginia University; Hodjat Ghadimi, Division of Design and Merchandising, West Virginia University; Randall W. Jackson, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; and Robert Duval, Department of Political Science, West Virginia University

Start Date: July 1, 2010
Completion Date: June 30, 2011
Funding Agency: West Virginia Division of Energy, $79,000 (RRI related portion is $22,160)

Project Summary: This project involved a coordinated WVU campus effort oriented toward supporting the Director of the WV Department of Energy in responding to and achieving the goals of WV Senate Bill 518.

Appalachian Assessment of Natural Assets: Water

Researchers: Jinyang Deng (PI), Jim Anderson, Nicholas Zegre, Todd Petty, Division of Forestry; Randall W. Jackson, Regional Research Institute; Michael Strager and Sam Lamont, Division of Resource Management; Trevor Harris and Frank Lafone, Geology & Geography, West Virginia University

Start Date: October 1, 2009
Completion Date: May 31, 2011

FinalReport
Interactive Water Assessment Map
Funding Agency: Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), $248,150

Project Summary: This report was initiated as part of a long-term research objective developed by the Appalachian Regional Commission to understand Appalachia’s natural assets.The primary goal was to provide information that will encourage the development and sustainable management of water resources across the Appalachian Region.This required developing and updating an inventory of natural assets, analyzing their value and usage, assessing their potential contribution to economic development of the Region,and creating a framework to assist with planning their best use.

Research Projects Completed in 2010

Planning and Financing Energy Efficient Infrastructure

Researchers: Hodjat Ghadimi (PI) and Randall W. Jackson, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; The Cadmus Group, Inc., and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

Start Date: October 1, 2009
Completion Date: September 30, 2010
Funding Agency: Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), $44,820

Project Summary: This study will develop a practical framework to help the municipalities and counties covered by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) in assessing, planning, and financing energy-efficient infrastructure and facility improvements. The framework will have as its foundation a summary of relevant data from research, cost-benefit analyses of efficiency measures (and models for municipal use), and region-specific “best practices” (including costs and jobs created), as well as holistic models of sustainable infrastructure and financing, customized for the region, which relate energy and water management. Ultimately, The ARC municipalities and counties need energy efficiency measures to be installed that will provide savings, contribute to public health, and create jobs, thus stimulating the regional economy and enhancing the competitiveness of the Appalachian region within the nation.

Performance Measurement and Asset Mapping of Regional Innovation Systems in the United States

Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI), Junbo Yu, Eric Bowen and Zheng Tian, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; Shaoming Cheng, Florida International University; Kingsley Haynes and James Riggle, George Mason University

Start Date: September 1, 2008
Completion Date: March 31, 2010
EDA Regional Innovation Assets Toolkit
Funding Agency: Economic Development Administration (EDA), $192,647

Project Summary: The long-term goal of this project is to strengthen regional innovation systems, enhance innovation capacities, and promote regional development in the United States. The objective of the proposal is to create quantitative, comprehensive, and systemic regional innovation measures which highlight gaps in regional innovation assets, resource endowments and commitments, and policy options that motivate, align, and leverage regional assets, build up integrated and coherent regional innovation systems, and achieve regional prosperity. This research is also intended to identify regions, competitors or peers, with similar regional asset endowments and gaps yet different development prospects for future road trips of regional leaders and stakeholders and for related comparative case studies to shed light on shared and tailored development strategies.

Research Projects Completed in 2009

Economic Impact of Domestic Fossil-based Resources

Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI), Christa Jensen, Ryan Post, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University

Start Date: February 17, 2009
Completion Date: November 14, 2009
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $101,958

Project Summary: The objective of this activity is to expand the model developed under sub-task 404.03.02 – Energy Policy Act of 2005, Section 999: Valuing Domestically Produced Natural Gas and Oil to incorporate complex modeling recommendations from the CY08 merit review panel as well as from NETL management. Additionally, this task calls for model enhancements that will support the analysis of coal-to-liquids development. These model enhancements will result in a more comprehensive and sensitive model that supports more rigorous analyses of domestic resource development, from both on and offshore resources. The scope of this subtask includes, but is not limited to: economic analysis guidance; technical and economic analysis of oil, gas, CTL, refinery, and gathering pipeline industries; customization of existing model to address analysis scope; model execution and results analysis; communication support, including, but not limited to: methodology and model customization/development documentation; analysis definition and results reporting; and contextual analysis of results.

Impact Forecasting thru Econometric IO Model

Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI),  Mulugeta Kahsai, Zheng Tian, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University

Start Date: June 3, 2009
Completion Date: November 14, 2009
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $104,118

Project Summary: This project serves as the design phase for a time-series enabled hybrid model (EC-IO) that combines the capabilities of econometric modeling with the strengths of IO modeling. The objective of the tool that will be designed is to facilitate capturing the economic and employment impacts of technology development, deployment and operation over a given forecast period and ultimately to quantify NETL’s programmatic impacts under an increasingly consistent approach. This tool shall be in an NETL supported framework and the design shall support user entries that adequately define an analysis scenario.

Office Systems, Analysis and Planning Support – National and State Economic Impact of NETL

Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI), Amanda Krugh, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University

Start Date: January 12, 2009
Completion Date: December 14, 2009
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $84,311

Project Summary: The project objective is to develop a means for regularly estimating state-level and national economic impacts derived from NETL federal and on-site contractor employment and operational activities as well as the impact of providing funding to support external research. This project is driven by the WV, PA, and national models developed in FY06 that are based on 1997 input-output data. This project will result in up-to-date models as well as new state-level model for Oregon. Additionally, this project will yield a standardized NETL-data collection process and impact assessments. The intent is to develop models and an assessment methodology that can be used by NETL and its partner research universities for current and future impact assessments.

Research Projects Completed in 2008

Valuing Domestically Produced Natural Gas and Oil

Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI) and Christa Jensen, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University

Start Date: September 25, 2007
Completion Date: December 31, 2008
Final Report
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $106,940

Project Summary: Technologies supported and advanced by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 999 technologies) funding are expected to increase US natural gas and oil production while lowering production costs. The goal of this project is to develop a model that will facilitate a national regional economic analysis of the impacts of offsetting imports by increasing domestic natural gas and oil production in areas likely to be impacted by EPAct 999 technologies. Ultimately, this project is aimed at capturing the economic impacts of industry-based activity associated with converting new and existing reserves into production and moving this product to the point of refinement or processing. The incremental value of these activities is the net value of these domestic production activities less the value of import-related activities within the U.S.

Research Projects Completed in 2007

Models of Energy Futures and NETL’s Local/Regional Economic and Environmental Impact

Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI) and Christa Jensen, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; David Martinelli, Civil & Environmental Engineering, West Virginia University; Carnegie Mellon University

Start Date: August 18, 2006
Completion Date: July 31, 2007 Final Report
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $74,995

Project Summary: This project was intended to provide a means for (1) regularly estimating the economic benefits that NETL employment and funding has on the state economy in terms of job creation and (2) identifying the more extensive state-level benefits from NETL research and energy industry improvements in the form of reduced costs and environmental impacts. In future years, the project work could develop means for quantifying the benefits associated with NETL research results and energy industry improvements. The intent is to develop a methodology that can be used by NETL and its partner research universities for continuing impact assessments and to provide guidance in decision making with respect to research investments. The project involved researchers at Carnegie Mellon and West Virginia Universities as well as personnel from NETL.

Research Projects Completed in 2005

Constructing Interregional Commodity-Industry Accounts for US States

Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI) and Yasuhide Okuyama, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University

Start Date: August 1, 2003
Completion Date: January 31, 2005
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation, $99,994

Project Summary: Various mechanisms link the fortunes of regional economies to one another. These linkages can be political, social, and economic, and can involve not only flows of information but also flows of goods and services (commodities). Through the exchange of information and commodities (interregional trade), economic impulses are transmitted throughout the regions in an economic system. Hence, economic growth in one region can stimulate other regional economies, and likewise, downturns in the economy of one region can have negative impacts on other interdependent regions. Understanding the nature of these interregional linkages can be enhanced by providing a formal representation of information and commodity flows among regions. This project will provide such a representation in the form of interregional trades of commodities among US states, delineating both industry and institutional origins and destinations. The project focuses on the estimation of interstate exchanges of commodities, leaving the estimation of interregional factor flows and interregional inter-institutional flows as avenues for future research. Information primarily from two sources is used in estimating the trade flows. The first is a commercially available dataset that enumerates intraregional commodity, factor and institutional flows, and the second is publicly available transportation shipment data from the Commodity Flow Survey (CFS) conducted by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Because disclosure rules and statistical reliability problems make it impossible to use the unmodified CFS data, the project uses a three-phase method to generate an interregional commodity flow accounting framework that is consistent with published national data. First, spatial regularities within the CFS data are estimated econometrically. Optimization techniques are then applied to estimate gross interregional flows by commodity. Lastly, the structure of these relationships is used to map the intraregional accounts to a consistent multiregional system. The interregional database that results from this project will provide a foundation for a wide variety of analytical research advancing knowledge and understanding of the US state and interstate economic system. Analyses that will flow from this database include studies of economic structure and structural change, and the identification of key industry sectors and critical interstate linkages by state. The database will find use as the foundation of a range of extended models formulated specifically to analyze the economic impacts of various policies, including those that focus on trade, transportation infrastructure, and economic development.

An Analysis of Industry Clusters Related to the Advent of Thin Slab Casting

Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI), Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University

Start Date: November 1, 2002
Completion Date: January 31, 2005
Funding Agency: Sloan Foundation, in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh, Center for Industry Studies, $83,719

Project Summary: The Regional Research Institute will conduct research on the effects of changes in steel production technology on regional economies and regional economic development. The research is a comparative analysis of interindustry linkages based on the clustering activity associated with steel minimills. This research will use the advent of the new thin-slab casting technology in the American steel industry to enhance understanding of the relationship between industry clusters that have developed around steel minimills and firm competitiveness. RRI researchers will investigate industry clustering and its effects on regional economies. The analysis will be based on qualitative and quantitative data, gathered on plant visits, that should bring valuable evidence to bear on the nature of the economies that accrue to individual plants in an industry as that industry expands. Understanding these economies and the way they develop can translate into cost  competitiveness and strategic advantage for firms. Knowledge of the ways in which industry clusters are developing around new steel sites can provide useful information for regional development agencies and government offices. This research takes advantage of a unique opportunity for comparative analysis that can be used to better understand the ways in which regions grow and develop.

Economic Impacts of Proposed LNG Facility Expansion and Associated Pipeline

Researchers: Randall Jackson (P

Start Date: May 28, 2004
Completion Date: June 1, 2005
Funding Agency: Dominion Transmission, $23,150

Project Summary: Dominion Cove Point LNG, LP, a company in the Dominion Transmission, Inc. family, “will ask the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve an increase in the plant’s daily output capacity.” Upon approval, Dominion Cove Point would expend its pipeline and two compressor stations in central Pennsylvania to move natural gas to customers throughout the Northeast. The RRI has been asked to estimate the economic impacts on the affected Pennsylvania counties of the pipeline and compressor station construction, operation and maintenance.

Research Projects Completed in 2004

Analysis of Lifeline Damages and Economic Impacts of an Earthquake: Development of an Integrated Economic-Engineering Assessment Model

Researchers: Yasuhide Okuyama (PI), Regional Research Institute, West Virginia, in collaboration with Dr. Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) at the University of Illinois, and the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CREIPI), Japan

Start Date: September 1, 2002
Completion Date: June 30, 2004
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation, $34,350

Project Summary: Recent major earthquakes in urban areas throughout the world (for example, Northridge, CA, 1994: Kobe, Japan, 1995: and Taipei, Taiwan, 1999) have re-emphasized how intense and significant the damages and impacts of a major earthquake could become. An earthquake in an urban area not only will bring the physical damages to the lifelines, such as electric power, water, transportation networks, and to the buildings and houses, but also will cause the business interruptions that may lead to further economic impacts to the area. In addition, the economic impacts of an earthquake would spread over to other regions and even to other countries through economic interactions, i.e. domestic and international trades. The estimation of these economic impacts is very important for both justifying the policy to retrofit (reinforce) existing structures to minimize the physical damages, such as transportation facilities and lifelines, and providing useful information to the emergency management process after an earthquake. The objectives of this research project are to investigate the economic impacts of a major earthquake in an urban area and to analyze the relationship between the recovery activities on lifeline damages and the mitigation of the economic impacts. In this project, first, a lifeline network engineering model and a set of economic models will be constructed separately. Once completed, an integrated economic-engineering model will be developed for connecting the physical damage data from the engineering model with the estimation of the economic impacts by the economic models, in order to simulate recovery activities and its effects to a broad range of economic activities. Findings from the project can respond to some important modeling issues to integrate engineering model with economic assessment models. By doing so, the project will also contribute some perspective to aid in the formulation of retrofit policy for the lifeline system and of recovery and reconstruction plans after an earthquake. The project is being  carried out by the collaboration of U.S. and Japanese researchers to connect and integrate each other’s knowledge and skills in economic and engineering modeling, respectively. Moreover, the construction of a modeling scheme will enable researchers to  compare the countermeasures against earthquakes in the U.S. and Japan.