Carnegie Mellon University


June 03, 2019

Tepper School Ph.D. Student Research Earns Academic Accolade

Research from Siddharth Singh, a doctoral student in operations management at the Tepper School of Business, was recognized by the Production and Operations Management Society as a finalist in College of Sustainable Operations Best Student Paper competition. At the POMS annual conference, Singh’s paper, “That’s Not Fair: Tariff Structures for Electricity Markets with Rooftop Solar,” earned a runner-up recognition and a $300 cash award.

Co-authored by his adviser, Alan Scheller-Wolf, Richard M. Cyert Professor of Operations Management and Senior Associate Dean of Faculty and Research, the paper investigates the practice of selling excess energy generated by home solar panels back to utility companies. Singh and Scheller-Wolf built analytical models to devise an optimized strategy for setting rates for the energy, or tariffs, and tested this tariff on real data. A successful tariff, Singh said, varies per customer based on the amount of energy they use and whether they are generating solar energy. 

“The research reveals key insights that have the potential to shape solar policies that are equitable for consumers and energy companies,” Scheller-Wolf said. “Many states have had tariffs modified because they lead to ‘cross-subsidization’ — in which one segment of customers (often lower income) subsidizes a different segment’s solar installations through higher electricity rates. Siddharth shows how this can be avoided, enabling solar panels to benefit all customers. It’s gratifying to see the Production and Operations Management Society acknowledge the significance of this work.”

“I believe the paper’s strengths lie in its topicality and the fact that our modeling and analysis credibly captures interactions between various decision makers whose objectives often conflict,” Singh said.

Singh submitted the paper earlier this year to the College of Sustainable Operations, one of eight POMS colleges focused on a functional discipline studied by researchers in production and operations management. “The College of Sustainable Operations is a focused community of researchers with expertise in sustainable operations,” he said. “As such, it presents an ideal platform to showcase work relating to sustainability.”

Singh plans to continue studying policies surrounding solar energy. One area of interest is how state governments manage community solar programs intended to expand access to residents who are unable to install rooftop solar panels, because they rent their homes or because their roofs do not support the installation, for example.