IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/26385.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Electric Gini: Income Redistribution through Energy Prices

Author

Listed:
  • Arik Levinson
  • Emilson Silva

Abstract

Efficient electricity pricing involves two-part tariffs: a volumetric price equal to the marginal cost of producing an additional kilowatt hour (kWh) and a fixed fee to cover any remaining fixed costs. In this paper we explore how US electricity regulators depart from this simple two-part tariff to address concerns about income inequality. We first show that in theory, price setters concerned about inequality will charge lower fixed monthly fees and higher per-kWh prices, and increasing block prices to target higher users with even higher prices. Then we use a new dataset of 1,300 utilities across the US to show that these theoretical predictions are borne out in practice. Utilities whose ratepayers have more unequal incomes levy more redistributive tariffs, charging less to low users and more to high users. To quantify these comparisons, we develop a new measure of the redistributive extent of utility tariffs that we call the “electric Gini.” Utilities with higher electric Ginis (more redistributive tariffs) shift costs from households that use relatively little electricity to households that use more. But because electricity use is only loosely correlated with income, that redistribution does not meaningfully shift costs from households with low incomes to those with high incomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Arik Levinson & Emilson Silva, 2019. "The Electric Gini: Income Redistribution through Energy Prices," NBER Working Papers 26385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26385
    Note: EEE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w26385.pdf
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text is generally limited to series subscribers, however if the top level domain of the client browser is in a developing country or transition economy free access is provided. More information about subscriptions and free access is available at http://www.nber.org/wwphelp.html. Free access is also available to older working papers.

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

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:nbr:nberwo:26385. 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: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.