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Energy Efficiency Economics and Policy

  • Kenneth Gillingham
  • Richard G. Newell
  • Karen Palmer

Energy efficiency and conservation are considered key means for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving other energy policy goals, but associated market behavior and policy responses have engendered debates in the economic literature. We review economic concepts underlying consumer decision making in energy efficiency and conservation and examine related empirical literature. In particular, we provide an economic perspective on the range of market barriers, market failures, and behavioral failures that have been cited in the energy efficiency context. We assess the extent to which these conditions provide a motivation for policy intervention in energy-using product markets, including an examination of the evidence on policy effectiveness and cost. Although theory and empirical evidence suggests there is potential for welfare-enhancing energy efficiency policies, many open questions remain, particularly relating to the extent of some key market and behavioral failures.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15031.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Kenneth Gillingham & Richard G. Newell & Karen Palmer, 2009. "Energy Efficiency Economics and Policy," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 597-620, 09.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15031
Note: EEE
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  1. Anderson, Soren T. & Newell, Richard G., 2004. "Information programs for technology adoption: the case of energy-efficiency audits," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 27-50, March.
  2. Stephen J. Decanio & William E. Watkins, 1998. "Investment In Energy Efficiency: Do The Characteristics Of Firms Matter?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 95-107, February.
  3. Sutherland, Ronald J, 1996. "The economics of energy conservation policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 361-370, April.
  4. Fischer, Carolyn, 2005. "On the importance of the supply side in demand-side management," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 165-180, January.
  5. Metcalf, Gilbert E., 1994. "Economics and rational conservation policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(10), pages 819-825, October.
  6. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
  7. Sue Wing, Ian, 2008. "Explaining the declining energy intensity of the U.S. economy," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 21-49, January.
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