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An Empirical Analysis of Energy Intensity and Its Determinants at the State Level


  • Gilbert E. Metcalf


Aggregate energy intensity in the United States has been declining steadily since the mid-1970s and the first oil shock. Energy intensity can be reduced by improving efficiency in the use of energy or by moving away from energy-intensive activities. At the national level, I show that roughly three-quarters of the improvements in U.S. energy intensity since 1970 results from efficiency improvements. This should reduce concerns that the United States is off-shoring its carbon emissions. A state-level analysis shows that rising per capita income and higher energy prices have played an important part in lowering energy intensity. Price and income predominantly influence intensity through changes in energy efficiency rather than through changes in economic activity. In addition, the empirical analysis suggests that little policy intervention will be needed to achieve the Bush Administration goal of an 18 percent reduction in carbon intensity by the end of this decade.

Suggested Citation

  • Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2008. "An Empirical Analysis of Energy Intensity and Its Determinants at the State Level," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 1-26.
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:2008v29-03-a01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dallas Burtraw & Karen Palmer & Alan J. Krupnick, 1997. ""Second-Best" Adjustments to Externality Estimates in Electricity Planning with Competition," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 73(2), pages 224-239.
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    4. Paul L. Joskow & Richard Schmalensee, 1988. "Markets for Power: An Analysis of Electrical Utility Deregulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262600188, July.
    5. Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen & Shih, Jhih-Shyang, 2005. "Reducing Emissions from the Electricity Sector: The Costs and Benefits Nationwide and for the Empire State," Discussion Papers dp-05-23, Resources For the Future.
    6. Gernot Klepper & Sonja Peterson, 2006. "Emissions Trading, CDM, JI, and More: The Climate Strategy of the EU," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 1-26.
    7. Donald N. Dewees, 2006. "Electricity Restructuring and Regulation in the Provinces: Ontario and Beyond," Working Papers tecipa-205, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    8. Spencer Banzhaf, H. & Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen, 2004. "Efficient emission fees in the US electricity sector," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 317-341, September.
    9. Palmer, Karen & Burtraw, Dallas, 2005. "Cost-effectiveness of renewable electricity policies," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 873-894, November.
    10. Neuhoff, K. & Grubb, M. & Keats, K., 2005. "Impact of the allowance allocation on prices and efficiency," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0552, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
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    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General


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