The Equity and Efficiency of Two-Part Tariffs in U.S. Natural Gas Markets
AbstractResidential natural gas customers in the United States face volumetric charges that average about 30 percent more than the marginal cost of gas. This inefficient departure from marginal cost pricing allows gas utilities to cover their fixed infrastructure and operating costs. Proposals for recovering these costs instead through fixed monthly fees are often opposed because of a widespread belief that current rate schedules have desirable distributional consequences. Using nationally representative household-level data, we show that the correlation between household income and natural gas consumption is indeed positive but surprisingly weak, so current rate schedules are only mildly progressive. In part, we argue that this is because poor households tend to have larger families and less energy-efficient homes. We calculate bill impacts under a variety of scenarios and show that even a modest energy assistance program would more than offset the distributional impact of tariff rebalancing for most low-income households.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Law and Economics.
Volume (Year): 55 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 75 - 128
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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/
Other versions of this item:
- Severin Borenstein & Lucas W. Davis, 2010. "The Equity and Efficiency of Two-Part Tariffs in U.S. Natural Gas Markets," NBER Working Papers 16653, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure and Pricing - - - Monopoly
- L50 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - General
- L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities
- Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
- Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters
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