Joseph Rand: Graduating Researcher of the Hydro Research Foundation

Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of profiles provided by the Hydro Research Foundation that highlight potential future members of the hydroelectric power industry and their accomplishments.

The Hydro Research Foundation is actively supporting graduate students to conduct research related to conventional and pumped storage hydropower.  These students are funded through the Department of Energy’s Water Power Program and industry partners through a two-year grant.

Joseph Rand is a master’s graduate from the Energy and Resources Group (ERG) at UC-Berkeley. At ERG, his research focuses on the social and institutional dimensions of renewable energy deployment. Rand is a Graduate Research Assistant in the Electricity Markets and Policy Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), where he is contributing to a national study on public acceptance of wind power. Before beginning graduate school, Rand was the Director of Training and Outreach for the KidWind Project, an organization committed to improving renewable energy STEM education.

During this time, he presented at numerous international conferences and served as a Technical Committee Member with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), helping to create the Small Wind Entry-Level Exam. Joseph began his graduate education by pursuing a master’s degree in Appropriate Technology from Appalachian State University, where he was a member of the student-run Renewable Energy Initiative and was a Student Scholar at the 2014 Appalachian Energy Summit.

Rand completed his thesis for his award early June with the support of Dr. Duncan Calloway and has been working with, Mike Sale from the Low Impact Hydropower Institute and Linda Church-Ciocci from the National Hydropower Association. The title of his dissertation is” Environmental, Economic, and Social Trade-Offs of Hydropower Relicensing: A Case Study of the Yuba River Development Project.” His full report can be found here.

Despite providing low-cost, flexible, carbon-free electricity, hydropower faces criticism based on local environmental and social impacts. In the case of hydropower relicensing, this raises the question of how to translate DOE and licensee objectives into locally accepted policies. This interdisciplinary, mixed-methods research will examine the economic, environmental, and social trade-offs of stakeholder flow proposals for a hydropower project undergoing relicensing in California. The ultimate goal of the research is to understand the drivers of public acceptance of hydropower and the specific trade-offs that may be associated with achieving the DOE hydropower vision.

Ultimately, the mixed-methods research outlined above will yield three distinct valuations: The licensee’s (FLA) flow proposal economic output; the resource agencies’ and NGOs’ flow proposal economic output; and the stakeholders’ valuation of environmental flows. Comparing these valuations will allow for a deeper understanding of economic costs and socially acceptable trade-offs in relicensing negotiations. These results will assist the hydropower industry in meeting DOE objectives while minimizing environmental externalities and social opposition.

Rand has accepted a position at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. To connect with Joe or learn more about the Research Awards Program please email or visit the website

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