Environmental Role-Play:

Negotiated Rulemaking for Electric Utilities


Jonathan Raab and Lavinia Hall

Five-person facilitated negotiation among environmental, industry, public utility, and government representatives to revise a proposed rule incorporating environmental costs into electric utility rates


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.


Due to increased public pressures, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) has had several meetings with three coalitions to assess the environmental impacts of electricity production. The coalitions representing environmental organizations, the electric utilities, and industrial electricity users, along with the PUC and a neutral facilitator must meet to review and improve a preliminary draft of a proposed rule that incorporates environmental costs into electric utility rate setting decisions.



  • Negotiation benefits rule-making processes: This exercise illustrates how negotiation can enhance the process of rule-making by identifying what interests should be served by a particular rule and how those interests can be met.
  • Benefits of multiple iterations of this game: When the game is played by several groups at the same time, the comparison of outcomes is instructive. Typically, some groups will reach agreement and some will not. The range of possible agreements is wide; by comparing agreements the usefulness of generating options should emerge.
  • Identifying success: Attitudes toward success can change when players in the same role compare outcomes across groups. Seeing what the same party at a different table achieved opens up discussion of the meaning of both winning and fairness.
  • Potential roles of the facilitator: It is interesting to observe and discuss the role of the facilitator. The facilitator's instructions are rather vague, therefore the role may develop into a mediator's role, a process manager's role, or the parties may choose not to have the facilitator take part in the negotiation at all.
  • Impact of meeting design: The design of the meeting is created by the players. How the discussion are initiated and what process is chosen to redraft the agreement is up to the parties. They can either set a cooperative or a competitive tone.
  • Impact of private caucusing: Caucusing can lead to the formation of blocking coalitions. The effects of caucusing on the prospects of reaching agreements can be compared across groups.
  • Single Text Tool: The usefulness of a single negotiating text is illustrated. This gives parties a focal point for discussion and a tool for recording the evolving agreement. This can clarify differences and help parties structure packages or trade-offs more creatively.



This exercise is written to include 5 roles, however, more than one player may be assigned to any role.


Estimated Time Requirements:

Reading and preparation: 15 minutes

Parties having the same role may caucus to review their strategies prior to the beginning of the actual negotiation: 35 minutes

Negotiation and Review of the draft: 60 minutes

Debrieft: At least 45 minutes

Total: 2.5-3 hours.



For all parties:

  • General Information
  • Draft of Proposed Rule


Role Specific:

Confidential Instructions for:

  • Electric Utility Negotiator
  • Environmental Negotiator
  • Industrial User Negotiator
  • Public Utility Commission Negotiator
  • Confidential Advice to the Facilitator


Teacher's Package:

  • All of the above



Negotiated rule-making; Rate setting negotiation; Electricity rate setting; Environmental dispute resolution; Agenda control; Bluffing; Caucusing; Coalitions; Communication; Competition v. Cooperation; Compliance; Consensus building; Creativity; Decision analysis; Drafting; Fairness; Group process; Information exchange; Interest analysis; Issue control; Joint gains; Legitimacy; Meaning of "success"; Mediation; Meeting design; Negotiation entry; Objective criteria; Options, generating; Packaging; Partisan perceptions; Public opinion; Relationship; Risk aversion; Single-text procedure; Yesable propositions



Dirty Stuff II

Negotiated Rulemaking for Electric Utilities Attributes

Time required: 2-3 hours
Number of participants: 5
Teams involved: No
Agent present: Non-lawyer
Neutral third party present: Facilitator
Scoreable: Yes
Teaching notes available: No