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Is Real-Time Pricing Green? The Environmental Impacts of Electricity Demand Variance

  • Stephen P. Holland

    (Department of Economics, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and NBER)

  • Erin T. Mansur

    (School of Management, Yale University, and NBER)

Real-time pricing (RTP) of electricity would improve allocative efficiency and limit wholesalers' market power. Conventional wisdom claims that RTP provides additional environmental benefits. This paper argues that RTP will reduce the variance, both within- and across-days, in the quantity of electricity demanded. We estimate the short-run impacts of this reduction on SO_2, NO_x, and CO_2 emissions. Reducing variance decreases emissions in regions where peak demand is met more by oil-fired capacity than by hydropower, such as the Mid-Atlantic. However, reducing variance increases emissions in more U.S. regions, namely those with more hydropower like the West. The effects are relatively small. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 90 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 550-561

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:90:y:2008:i:3:p:550-561
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  1. Caves, Douglas W. & Christensen, Laurits R., 1980. "Econometric analysis of residential time-of-use electricity pricing experiments," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 287-306, December.
  2. Severin Borenstein & Stephen Holland, 2005. "On the Efficiency of Competitive Electricity Markets with Time-Invariant Retail Prices," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(3), pages 469-493, Autumn.
  3. Herriges, Joseph A, et al, 1993. "The Response of Industrial Customers to Electric Rates Based upon Dynamic Marginal Costs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(3), pages 446-54, August.
  4. 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.
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