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Price Transparency in Residential Electricity: Experiments for Regulatory Policy

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  • Lunn, Pete
  • Bohacek, Marek

Abstract

Two laboratory studies investigated the effect of price transparency on consumers’ decision-making in the residential electricity market. The first tested whether consumers have difficulties when confronted with unit prices expressed as discounts from standard rates, which vary between suppliers. Results showed that consumers were much more likely to choose packages with low unit prices when unit prices were presented explicitly rather than as discounts. When discounts were described as percentages, consumers’ decisions were also less accurate. The second study pre-tested the likely impact of a potential mandatory “estimated annual bill” (EAB) on marketing material, calculated for a customer with average usage. Results demonstrated that consumers were more likely to judge value according to unit prices when an EAB appeared on advertisements. Moreover, when unit prices were communicated via an EAB rather than a discount, consumers chose lower unit price offerings and were more precise in their decision-making. The findings suggest that the EAB is likely to be beneficial for consumers’ decision-making.

Suggested Citation

  • Lunn, Pete & Bohacek, Marek, 2016. "Price Transparency in Residential Electricity: Experiments for Regulatory Policy," Papers WP543, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp543
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lunn, Pete & Bohacek, Marek & Somerville, Jason & Ni Choisdealbha, Aine & McGowan, Feidhlim, 2016. "PRICE Lab: An Investigation of Consumers’ Capabilities with Complex Products," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number BKMNEXT306.
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    4. Lunn, Pete & Bohacek, Marek & McGowan, Feidhlim, 2016. "The Surplus Identification Task and Limits to Multi-Attribute Consumer Choice," Papers WP536, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    5. Chris M. Wilson & Catherine Waddams Price, 2010. "Do consumers switch to the best supplier?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 647-668, October.
    6. Stefania Sitzia & Jiwei Zheng & Daniel Zizzo, 2015. "Inattentive consumers in markets for services," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 79(2), pages 307-332, September.
    7. Paul L. Joskow, 2008. "Lessons Learned from Electricity Market Liberalization," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Special I), pages 9-42.
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    Cited by:

    1. McGowan, Féidhlim, 2018. "The roaming regulation and the case for applying behavioural industrial organisation to EU competition policy," Papers WP598, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    2. Regan, Mark & Keane, Claire & Walsh, John R, 2018. "Using behavioural experiments to pre-test policy," Papers BP2019/2, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection

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