Electricity demand and basic needs: Empirical evidence from China's households
An increasing block tariff (IBT) has been implemented nationwide in the residential sector in China since 2012. However, knowledge about IBT design is still limited, particularly how to determine the electricity volume for the first block of an IBT scheme. Assuming the first block should be set based on some measure of electricity poverty; we attempt to model household electricity demand such that the range of basic needs can be established. We show that in Chinese households there exists a threshold for electricity consumption with respect to income, which could be considered a measure of electricity poverty, and the threshold differs between rural and urban areas. For rural (urban) families, electricity consumption at the level of 7th (5th) income decile households can be considered the threshold for basic needs or a measure of electricity poverty since household electricity demand in rural (urban) areas does not respond to income changes until after 7th (5th) income decile. Accordingly, the first IBT block for some provinces (e.g., Beijing) appears to have been set at a level that is too high. Over time however, given continued rapid growth, the IBT will begin to better reflect actual basic needs.
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