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Lessons from Utility Conservation Programs

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  • Franz Wirl

Abstract

This paper considers the design, incentives and effectiveness of U.S. demand side management (DSM) programs and tries to explain why this ambitious, almost unanimously embraced initiative failed. Problems on the demand side result from consumers' private information that implies that substantial principal-agent slippage must accompany any conservation incentive the utility offers to the consumer. Moreover, the regulatory incentives induce the American utility to select inefficient programs. Therefore, the utility has little to gain from deterring such strategic reactions and cheating by consumers. As a consequence, the reported conservation exists largely on paper but not in reality. This ex-post assessment is important for two reasons. First, European countries (Scandinavia, Germany, Austria and others) have been eager to repeat this American regulatory 'success'. Second, the problems addressed in this paper would apply to another round of conservation programs induced by the concern about global warming.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by International Association for Energy Economics in its journal The Energy Journal.

Volume (Year): Volume21 (2000)
Issue (Month): Number 1 ()
Pages: 87-108

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Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:2000v21-01-a04

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Cited by:
  1. Rob Aalbers & Henri de Groot & Herman R.J. Vollebergh, 2011. "Reducing Rents from Energy Technology Adoption Programs by Exploiting Observable Information," CPB Discussion Paper 194, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  2. Diffney, Sean & Lyons, Sean & Malguzzi Valeri, Laura, 2009. "Advertising to boost energy efficiency: the Power of One campaign and natural gas consumption," Papers WP280, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  3. Frondel, Manuel & Schmidt, Christoph M., 2001. "Evaluating environmental programs: the perspective of modern evaluation research," ZEW Discussion Papers 01-59, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  4. Arjan Ruijs & Herman R.J. Vollebergh, 2013. "Lessons from 15 Years of Experience with the Dutch Tax Allowance for Energy Investments for Firms," OECD Environment Working Papers 55, OECD Publishing.
  5. Peter Grösche & Christop M. Schmidt & Colin Vance, 2013. "Identifying Free-riding in Home Renovation Programs Using Revealed Preference Data," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 233(5-6), pages 600-618, October.
  6. Arguedas, Carmen & van Soest, Daan P., 2009. "On reducing the windfall profits in environmental subsidy programs," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 192-205, September.
  7. Wilson, Elizabeth J. & Plummer, Joseph & Fischlein, Miriam & Smith, Timothy M., 2008. "Implementing energy efficiency: Challenges and opportunities for rural electric co-operatives and small municipal utilities," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 3383-3397, September.

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