Richard F. Hirsh
Hirsh picture



Professor Hirsh performs research on the deregulation and restructuring of the American electric utility system.  He also is re-examining the traditional history of rural electrification in the United States.

Former director of Virginia Tech's Consortium on Energy Restructuring (now inactive), Dr. Hirsh teaches courses in the History department and  in the interdisciplinary Science and Technology Studies program.

Course Information

Dr. Hirsh teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in history of technology and general history. Here are links to pages describing those courses.

Publications & Presentations

A selection of Dr. Hirsh's publications and presentations can be found at this page.

Academic information

Other activities


VT Rescue Squad


Spotlight: Why do some people love wind turbines?  

Somewhat of a bookend to "Wind Turbines and Invisible Technology" (see below), this piece provides a different way for understanding why some people find the new energy technology so attractive.  Josh Brinkman and Richard Hirsh, "Welcoming Wind Turbines and the PIMBY ("Please in My Backyard") Phenomenon
The Culture of the Machine in the Rural American Midwest,"
Technology and Culture
58, no. 2 (April 2017): 335-67.

Does economic growth depend on increases in electricity consumption?  Not anymore!

Having great policy implications, this paper challenges long-standing assumptions about energy and economic growth in the US.  Richard Hirsh and Jonathan Koomey, "Electricity Consumption and Economic Growth: A New Relationship with Significant Consequences?" The Electricity Journal28, no. 9 (Nov. 2015): 72-84.

History and Energy Policy

Two articles on the value of history for the "real world."  Richard Hirsh and Christopher Jones,   “History’s Contributions to Energy Research and Policy,” Energy Research & Social Science (Mar. 2014): 106-11; and Richard Hirsh,     “Historians of Technology in the Real World: Reflections on the Pursuit of Policy-Oriented History,” Technology and Culture 52 (Jan. 2011): 6-20.

Beyond Batteries

Discussion of benefits and barriers to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, by Benjamin Sovacool and Richard Hirsh, in Energy Policy 37 (Mar. 2009): 1095-1103.
Beyond Batteries

Why don't some people like wind turbines?

"Wind Turbines and Invisible Technology: Unarticulated Reasons for Local Opposition to Wind Energy," by Richard Hirsh and Benjamin Sovacool,  in Technology and Culture 54 (Oct. 2013): 705-34.