high honor

Houston professor receives prestigious energy economics award

Peter Hartley has accepted one of the highest honors of his career. Photo via Rice.edu

A Rice economist, Peter Hartley, received the most prestigious honor awarded by the United States Association for Energy Economics earlier this month.

Known as the Adelman-Frankel Award, the honor is granted to "an individual or organization for a unique and innovative contribution to the field of energy economics," according to a statement from Rice. It was presented to Hartley for his wide-ranging work in the energy economics field on November 7 at USAEE/International Association for Energy Economics North American Conference in Chicago.

The Rice Baker Institute’s Center of Energy Studies was granted the award as an organization in 2013. Last year, two professors from the University of California, Berkeley received the award.

“I’m honored to be included among the distinguished group of economists,” Hartley says in a statement.

Hartley has worked as an energy economist for 40 years. He is the George A. Peterkin Professor of Economics at Rice and is a Rice Scholar of Energy Economics at the Baker Institute. His work focused originally on electricity but has shifted to focus on natural gas, oil, coal, nuclear and renewable energy in recent years. He's also published work on more theoretical topics, including money, banking and business cycles.

Prior to coming to Rice, Hartley served as an assistant professor of economics at Princeton University. He is originally from Australia and holds a bachelors in mathematics and masters in economics from Australian National University. He received his PhD in economics from University of Chicago.

Also at the conference, Connor Colombe, a PhD graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, received the Best Student Paper award, according to the USAEE's LinkedIn page. The winner was granted $1,000 and received feedback from energy economists at the conference.

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A View From HETI

Houston could have ranked higher on a global report of top cities in the world if it had a bit more business diversification. Photo via Getty Images

A new analysis positions the Energy Capital of the World as an economic dynamo, albeit a flawed one.

The recently released Oxford Economics Global Cities Index, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s 1,000 largest cities, puts Houston at No. 25.

Houston ranks well for economics (No. 15) and human capital (No. 18), but ranks poorly for governance (No. 184), environment (No. 271), and quality of life (No. 298).

New York City appears at No. 1 on the index, followed by London; San Jose, California; Tokyo; and Paris. Dallas lands at No. 18 and Austin at No. 39.

In its Global Cities Index report, Oxford Economics says Houston’s status as “an international and vertically integrated hub for the oil and gas sector makes it an economic powerhouse. Most aspects of the industry — downstream, midstream, and upstream — are managed from here, including the major fuel refining and petrochemicals sectors.”

“And although the city has notable aerospace and logistics sectors and has diversified into other areas such as biomedical research and tech, its fortunes remain very much tied to oil and gas,” the report adds. “As such, its economic stability and growth lag other leading cities in the index.”

The report points out that Houston ranks highly in the human capital category thanks to the large number of corporate headquarters in the region. The Houston area is home to the headquarters of 26 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sysco.

Another contributor to Houston’s human capital ranking, the report says, is the presence of Rice University, the University of Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

“Despite this,” says the report, “it lacks the number of world-leading universities that other cities have, and only performs moderately in terms of the educational attainment of its residents.”

Slower-than-expected population growth and an aging population weaken Houston’s human capital score, the report says.

Meanwhile, Houston’s score for quality is life is hurt by a high level of income inequality, along with a low life expectancy compared with nearly half the 1,000 cities on the list, says the report.

Also in the quality-of-life bucket, the report underscores the region’s variety of arts, cultural, and recreational activities. But that’s offset by urban sprawl, traffic congestion, an underdeveloped public transportation system, decreased air quality, and high carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report downgrades Houston’s environmental stature due to the risks of hurricanes and flooding.

“Undoubtedly, Houston is a leading business [center] that plays a key role in supporting the U.S. economy,” says the report, “but given its shortcomings in other categories, it will need to follow the path of some of its more well-rounded peers in order to move up in the rankings.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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