IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Using real-time electricity data to estimate response to time-of-use and flat rates: an application to emissions


  • James Cochell
  • Peter Schwarz


  • Thomas Taylor


Using a generalized McFadden specification, we estimate the determinants of hourly response for the years 2006 through 2010 for all 16 standard retail customers who were on an optional real-time electricity rate offered by Duke Energy as of 2010, and provide a method to estimate how these customers would respond to time-of-use (TOU) and flat rates. We generalize the model to allow for inter-day response, as well as threshold prices, above which individual customer response may increase or decrease. With these inclusions, we find hourly elasticity for the group of customers to be as large as −0.7, larger than previous studies. We apply the method to examine a recent finding that time-differentiated rates could increase electric utility emissions. However, that result did not differentiate between real-time and TOU rates, and furthermore held energy use constant in comparing flat rates and time-differentiated rates. We perform a case study to examine emissions of SO 2 , NOx, Hg, and CO 2 based on predicted energy use changes as well as for an energy-neutral case for real-time, TOU and flat rates. Employing energy use predictions from the model, increased energy use results in increased emissions in almost all cases. For the energy-neutral case, time-differentiated rates increase CO 2 as compared to flat rates, and the TOU rate causes a larger increase than does real-time pricing. But both rates decrease other emissions in the majority of years, particularly SO 2 In addition, time-differentiated rates reduce NOx potency by shifting it to non-daylight hours when conditions for the formation of smog are less favorable. Our application leads to the conclusion that the effect of the rates on emissions must consider total energy use as well as the shift from peak to off-peak. Furthermore, the predictions require consideration of the generating mix at a more detailed level than was contained in previous studies. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Suggested Citation

  • James Cochell & Peter Schwarz & Thomas Taylor, 2012. "Using real-time electricity data to estimate response to time-of-use and flat rates: an application to emissions," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 42(2), pages 135-158, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:regeco:v:42:y:2012:i:2:p:135-158
    DOI: 10.1007/s11149-012-9190-7

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Severin Borenstein, 2007. "Customer Risk from Real-Time Retail Electricity Pricing: Bill Volatility and Hedgability," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 111-130.
    2. Martin L. Weitzman, 1974. "Prices vs. Quantities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(4), pages 477-491.
    3. Thomas Taylor & Peter Schwarz & James Cochell, 2005. "24/7 Hourly Response to Electricity Real-Time Pricing with up to Eight Summers of Experience," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 235-262, January.
    4. Stephen P. Holland & Erin T. Mansur, 2008. "Is Real-Time Pricing Green? The Environmental Impacts of Electricity Demand Variance," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 550-561, August.
    5. Thomas Taylor & Peter Schwarz, 2000. "Advance notice of real-time electricity prices," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 28(4), pages 478-488, December.
    6. Peter M. Schwarz, 2005. "Multipollutant Efficiency Standards For Electricity Production," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 23(3), pages 341-356, July.
    7. Stephen P. Holland & Erin T. Mansur, 2006. "The Short-Run Effects of Time-Varying Prices in Competitive Electricity Markets," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 127-156.
    8. Hung-po Chao, 2011. "Demand response in wholesale electricity markets: the choice of customer baseline," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 68-88, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Real-time pricing; Time-of-use pricing; Flat rates; Electricity; Emissions; L94; Q53; Q54;

    JEL classification:

    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:regeco:v:42:y:2012:i:2:p:135-158. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.