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The Surprising Pass-Through of Solar Subsidies

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  • Jacquelyn Pless
  • Arthur A. van Benthem

Abstract

We estimate the pass-through of solar energy subsidies to solar system prices. Rich micro-level transaction and subsidy data from California indicate that pass-through is remarkably high and differs substantially for consumers who buy versus lease solar systems. Buyers capture nearly the full subsidy, while there is more-than-complete pass-through to lessees. We formalize pass-through over-shifting as an under-utilized test for market power that can also be applied in other contexts. We rule out alternative explanations for over-shifting and conclude that our estimates provide evidence for imperfectly competitive solar markets. Our findings have implications for the distributional effects of energy subsidies.

Suggested Citation

  • Jacquelyn Pless & Arthur A. van Benthem, 2017. "The Surprising Pass-Through of Solar Subsidies," NBER Working Papers 23260, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23260
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sharat Ganapati & Joseph S. Shapiro & Reed Walker, 2016. "Energy Prices, Pass-Through, and Incidence in U.S. Manufacturing," Working Papers 16-27, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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    3. Wojciech Kopczuk & Justin Marion & Erich Muehlegger & Joel Slemrod, 2016. "Does Tax-Collection Invariance Hold? Evasion and the Pass-Through of State Diesel Taxes," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 251-286, May.
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    5. Seade, J, 1985. "Profitable Cost Increases and the Shifting of Taxation : Equilibrium Response of Markets in Oligopoly," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 260, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
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    8. Arie Beresteanu & Shanjun Li, 2011. "Gasoline Prices, Government Support, And The Demand For Hybrid Vehicles In The United States," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(1), pages 161-182, February.
    9. Robert A. Ritz, 2015. "The Simple Economics of Asymmetric Cost Pass-Through," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1515, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    10. Boomhower, Judson & Davis, Lucas W., 2014. "A credible approach for measuring inframarginal participation in energy efficiency programs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 67-79.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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