Carley's research and teaching focuses primarily on energy policy, including both electricity and transportation policy, and the effects, effectiveness, and unintended consequences of various energy policies. She also researches energy-based economic development, business and industry sustainability, and public perceptions of emerging energy technologies and infrastructure such as electric vehicles, transmission and distribution, and wind turbines.
Evaluates information provided on Environmental Protection Agency labels on new cars through a randomized survey experiment. Finds that new information provided by the agency on fuel savings is not enough, and that monthly total cost of ownership figures are necessary to get consumers to want to buy fuel-saving and alternative fuel vehicles.
Evaluates the importance of government capacity in the implementation of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 energy programs. Finds that administrative capacity was crucial to successful implementation.
Presents the notion of energy-based economic development, which is development that simultaneously pursues low-carbon, efficiency, and advanced energy goals, and economic development and growth goals. Explores policies, evaluation guidelines, and case studies.
Examines renewable portfolio standards used across the U.S. and finds that those states with this policy have, on average, much higher levels of renewable electricity deployment than those without, but the percentage of renewable to total electricity in states with the policy is not statistically different to those without the policy.
Evaluates U.S. utility demand side management programs and finds that money spent on these programs have led to significant electricity savings across the country.
Examines two prominent renewable electricity policies used across the world: the renewable portfolio standard and the feed-in tariff. Finds that, while both policies are associated with renewable electricity growth, a renewable portfolio standard is particularly important.