Environmental Role-Play:

Least-Cost Planning Exercise


Clinton Andrews and Lavinia Hall

Six-party, multi-issue mediation among electric utilities, consumer interests, environmentalists, and mediator with technical expertise, over the best way to meet increased demands for electricity


Please note: you must order a copy (a.k.a. license/usage fee) for every person participating in the simulation in your course. This simulation has multiple roles, so you will be unable to complete your purchase without meeting the minimum quantity requirement of copies per role.

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PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.

Bulk Pricing Discount

For bulk orders, we offer the following pricing discounts. Please note that these only apply to bulk orders of the same simulation.

  • Between 100-250 copies – 10% discount
  • Between 251-500 copies – 25% discount
  • More than 500 copies – 50% discount
Log In or Register to download the free Teacher's Package Sample.


The electric company, GENCO, has seen its capacity reserve margin drop from 40% to a mere 20% above peak load over the past 10 years. This decrease brings the company uncomfortably close to the minimum level necessary to maintain adequate service reliability. The imbalance between the availability of and demand for electricity has spawned various solutions which include conservation/demand-side management, gas- and oil-fired generation and coal-fired plants, provided either by the utility or an independent power producer. A mediator (Professor Calme), and a party representative from GENCO (the electric company), NOPE (a consumer group), the Public Utility Commission, CLEAN (an environmental group) and IPP (an independent power producer) will attempt to reach a consensus on a project proposal.



This exercise is best played with six players (one per role). Preparation should take at least 30 minutes and the negotiation should last 60 minutes. Debriefing should take at least 60 minutes.



  • The prospects for achieving joint gains is illuminated in this exercise. When parties value issues differently, they can create trades which benefit both parties and facilitate an acceptable agreement.
  • This game provides an opportunity to analyze the effect of coalitions on a negotiation, especially blocking coalitions. Adding a neutral allows for discussions of how parties use mediators/facilitators.
  • Many aspects of mediation in a multi-party, public policy dispute can be brought into focus, including: maintaining open communication, focusing the discussion on interests rather than positions, packaging options, and the development of a single-text procedure.
  • Issue of representation can be explored, since each of the players represents a group or institutional constituency. Each representative has a mandate which aids or constrains his or her ability to negotiate.
  • Parties that reveal their true interests do not necessarily do better than those who remain silent or bluff. The advantages and disadvantages of revealing all of one's concerns are illustrated in this game.



For all parties:

  • General Instructions


Role specific:

Confidential Instructions for:

  • President of GENCO
  • Spokesperson of NOPE
  • Director of Electric Power Planning
  • State Public Utility Commission
  • Senior Attorney at CLEAN
  • President IPP
  • Professor Calme (Mediator)


Teacher's Package (26 pages total):

  • All of the above



Agenda control; BATNA; Caucusing; Closure; Coalitions; Commitment; Communication; Competition v. Cooperation; Consensus building; Delay tactics; Group process; Information exchange; Interests, dovetailing; Issue control; Joint gains; Managing uncertainty; Objective criteria; Partisan perceptions; Pressure tactics; Public opinion; Risk aversion; Systems of Negotiation; Time constraints; Utility analysis; Yesable propositions

Least-Cost Planning Exercise Attributes

Time required: 1-2 hours
Number of participants: 6
Teams involved: No
Agent present: Non-lawyer
Neutral third party present: Mediator
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: No
Non-English version available: Portuguese, Spanish