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The Energy Journal
Volume 37, Number 4



Upgrading Efficiency and Behavior: Electricity Savings from Residential Weatherization Programs

Joshua Graff Zivin and Kevin Novan

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.jziv
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Abstract:
Residential weatherization programs have become a major component of U.S. energy policy. Through these programs, households receive heavily subsidized energy efficiency upgrades as well as informational and behavioral treatments designed to encourage conservation. While previous work demonstrates that weatherization programs provide sizable energy savings, all have measured the composite effect of efficiency upgrades and behavioral treatments. In this paper, we present the first estimates which disentangle the energy savings provided by each of the individual interventions. Our results reveal that the actual energy savings achieved by the efficiency upgrades are substantially smaller than ex-ante, engineering predictions. Moreover, we present evidence that the energy savings provided by the simple behavioral interventions can exceed the savings resulting from the much more costly efficiency upgrades. Keywords: Energy efficiency, Weatherization, Electricity demand




Housing Market Fundamentals, Housing Quality and Energy Consumption: Evidence from Germany

Marius Claudy and Claus Michelsen

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.mcla
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Abstract:
This study investigates the relationship between regional housing market fundamentals and energy consumption. We argue that dwellings, in particularly rental properties, are not only consumer goods, but also constitute financial market assets. Properties are spatially fixed and traded in regional contexts, where real estate market characteristics like vacancy, income levels, and expectations determine rent and prices, which in turn provide incentives to invest in housing quality. The level of housing quality (e.g. windows, building materials, or heating technology) in turn influences the level of energy consumption. While this view is established in the real estate and urban economics literature, it has only recently found its way into the energy debate. As a result, the relationship between regional housing market fundamentals and energy consumption has received little attention. This study provides a first attempt to address this paucity. Utilizing aggregate data on regional space-heating energy consumption from over 300,000 apartment buildings in 97 German planning regions, the study applies structural equation modeling to estimate the influence of housing market fundamentals on the level housing quality, and subsequently on regional energy consumption. Findings provide first evidence that regional differences in housing market conditions have a significant impact on housing quality and energy consumption. Specifically, the results suggest that carbon abatement programs in buildings should focus on regions with weak housing market fundamentals, as market incentives are unlikely to incentivize investors to invest in housing quality attributes. The authors conclude by highlighting important implications for energy research and avenues for further investigations. Keywords: heating energy demand, energy efficiency gap, regional housing




Price Regulation and the Incentives to Pursue Energy Efficiency by Minimizing Network Losses

Joisa Dutra, Flavio M. Menezes, and Xuemei Zheng

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.jdut
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Abstract:
This paper examines the incentives embedded in different regulatory regimes for investment by utilities in energy efficiency programs that aim to reduce network losses. In our model, a monopolist chooses whether to undertake an investment in energy efficiency, which is not observable by the regulator. We show that, in equilibrium, the monopolist chooses to exert positive effort more often under price cap regulation than under no regulation or mandated target regulation and that she exerts no effort under rate of return regulation. This result contrasts with an extensive literature that focuses on end-user energy conservation and shows that price caps are ineffective for achieving energy efficiency as utilities have an incentive to maximize sales volume. Thus, policies that are designed to promote demand-side energy conservation may diminish the utilities' incentives to pursue supply-side energy efficiency through minimizing network losses. Keywords: Energy efficiency, Regulatory incentive, The electricity sector




Investments in a Combined Energy Network Model: Substitution between Natural Gas and Electricity?

Jan Abrell and Hannes Weigt

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.jabr
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Abstract:
Natural gas plays an important role in the future development of electricity markets, as it is the least emission-intensive fossil generation option and additionally provides the needed plant operating flexibility to deal with intermittent renewable generation. As both the electricity and the natural gas market rely on networks, congestion in one market may lead to changes in the other. In addition, investment in one market impacts investment in the other market to the extent that these investments may even become substitutes for each another. The objective of this paper is to develop a dynamic model representation of coupled natural gas and electricity network markets to test the potential interaction with respect to investments. The model is tested under simplified conditions as well as for a stylized European network setting. The results indicate that there is sufficient potential for investment substitution and market interactions that warrant the application of coupled models, especially with regard to simulations of long-term system developments. Keywords: Electricity network, Natural gas network, Europe, MCP




Stepwise Green Investment under Policy Uncertainty

Michail Chronopoulos, Verena Hagspiel, and Stein-Erik Fleten

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.mchr
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Abstract:
We analyse how market price and policy uncertainty, in the form of random provision or retraction of a subsidy, interact to affect the optimal time of investment and the size of a renewable energy (RE) project that can be completed in either a single (lumpy investment) or multiple stages (stepwise investment). The subsidy takes the form of a fixed premium on top of the electricity price, and, therefore, investment is subject to electricity price uncertainty. We show that the risk of a permanent retraction (provision) of a subsidy increases (decreases) the incentive to invest, yet lowers (raises) the amount of installed capacity, and that this result is more pronounced as the size of the subsidy increases. Additionally, we show that increasing the number of policy interventions lowers the expected value of a subsidy and the size of the project. Furthermore, we illustrate that, although an increase in the size of a subsidy lowers the relative value of the stepwise investment strategy, the expected value of a lumpy investment strategy is still lower than that of stepwise investment. Keywords: Investment analysis, Capacity sizing, Renewable energy, Policy uncertainty




Carbon Price instead of Support Schemes: Wind Power Investments by the Electricity Market

Marie Petitet, Dominique Finon, and Tanguy Janssen

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.mpet
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Abstract:
This paper studies wind power development within electricity markets with a significant carbon price as the sole incentive. Simulation of electricity market and investment decisions by System Dynamics modelling is used to trace the evolution of the electricity generation mix over a 20-year period from an initially thermal system. A range of carbon prices is tested to determine the value above which market-driven development of wind power becomes economically possible. This requires not only economic competitiveness in terms of cost-price, but also profitability versus traditional fossil-fuel technologies. Results stress that wind power is profitable for investors only if the carbon price is significantly higher than the price required for making wind power MWh's cost-price competitive on the basis of levelized costs. In this context, the market-driven development of wind power seems only possible if there is a strong commitment to climate policy, reflected in a stable and high carbon price. Moreover, market-driven development of wind power becomes more challenging if nuclear is part of investment options. Keywords: Electricity market, Renewables, Investment, Carbon price, System dynamics modelling.




Residential End-use Electricity Demand: Implications for Real Time Pricing in Sweden

Mattias Vesterberg and Chandra Kiran B. Krishnamurthy

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.mves
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Abstract:
Using a unique and highly detailed data set on energy consumption at the appliance-level for 200 Swedish households, seemingly unrelated regression (SUR)based end-use specific load curves are estimated. The estimated load curves are then used to explore possible restrictions on load shifting (e.g. the office hours schedule) as well as the cost implications of different load shift patterns. The cost implications of shifting load from "expensive" to "cheap" hours, using the Nord pool spot prices as a proxy for a dynamic price, are computed to be very small; roughly 2-4% reduction in total daily cost from shifting load up to five hours ahead, indicating small incentives for households (and retailers) to adopt dynamic pricing of electricity. Keywords: Direct Metering, Residential Electricity Demand, Real time electricity pricing




Does Retrofitted Insulation Reduce Household Energy Use? Theory and Practice

Arthur Grimes, Nicholas Preval, Chris Young, Richard Arnold, Tim Denne, Philippa Howden-Chapman, and Lucy Telfar-Barnard

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.agri
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Abstract:
We analyze the household energy use impacts of a large-scale, universally available, subsidized retrofit insulation and clean heat scheme. Theory shows that the energy-saving effects of such schemes are ambiguous. Our difference-in-difference model of energy impacts resulting from each of insulation and clean heat treatment uses a sample of more than 12,000 treated houses. Retrofitted insulation treatment under the Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart program resulted in a statistically significant reduction in metered household energy consumption of almost 2%. Clean heat (heat pump) treatment resulted in increased electricity use but little change in total metered energy use other than at warmer temperatures, when heat pumps may have been used as air conditioners. Actual energy savings from insulation are approximately one-third of the modeled energy savings predicted by an engineering model. Keywords: Energy efficiency, Heat pump, Retrofitted insulation, Take-back effect




The Environmental Impacts of Fuel Switching Electricity Generators

J. Scott Holladay and Steven Soloway

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.jhol
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Abstract:
We examine the environmental and policy impacts of switching from oil-fired to natural gas-fired generation in New York City (NYC). We create an hourly panel of the fuel use of NYC's generators and use a semi-parametric approach to identify the fuel-price spread that induces the switch from oil to gas. We find that NYC's pollution emissions decrease significantly after generators switch to natural gas. Around two-thirds of these emission reductions come from reduced emission intensity within plants, while the remaining third comes from less intense dispatch of oil fired generators. To illustrate the policy impact, we simulate the introduction of a real time pricing (RTP) program in NYC. The results suggest that the environmental benefits of the RTP decreased by nearly 30% due largely to fuel switching. While we focus on RTP, these results can be used to evaluate any energy policy that has a heterogeneous impact across time or the demand profile. Keywords: Electricity, Natural Gas, Oil, Air Pollution




Testing for Market Integration in the Australian National Electricity Market

Rabindra Nepal and John Foster

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.rnep
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Abstract:
The National Electricity Market was established in 1998 as a response to the overall liberalization and restructuring of the Australian electricity sector. The wholesale market integration effects of this establishment, however, remain to be systematically examined. We use econometric techniques based on pairwise unit root tests, cointegration analysis and a time varying coefficient model to study the extent of market integration in the physically interconnected regional markets based on daily electricity spot prices. The results from the pairwise unit root tests provide mixed evidence of price convergence while cointegration analysis does not reject the absence of persistent price differences across the physically interconnected regions. The results from the time-varying filtered coefficient model suggest that full market integration has not been achieved yet. We empirically show the presence of significant network losses and constraints across the interregional interconnectors in the NEM. Our findings suggest that convergence in generation and network ownership, coupled with harmonisation of network regulation and regulatory institutional framework, will be increasingly important factors in improving wholesale market integration across all energy-only markets as they experience an increase in the share of renewable energy.




Testing for Market Integration in the Australian National Electricity Market

Rabindra Nepal and John Foster

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.rnep
View Abstract

Abstract:
The National Electricity Market was established in 1998 as a response to the overall liberalization and restructuring of the Australian electricity sector. The wholesale market integration effects of this establishment, however, remain to be systematically examined. We use econometric techniques based on pairwise unit root tests, cointegration analysis and a time varying coefficient model to study the extent of market integration in the physically interconnected regional markets based on daily electricity spot prices. The results from the pairwise unit root tests provide mixed evidence of price convergence while cointegration analysis does not reject the absence of persistent price differences across the physically interconnected regions. The results from the time-varying filtered coefficient model suggest that full market integration has not been achieved yet. We empirically show the presence of significant network losses and constraints across the interregional interconnectors in the NEM. Our findings suggest that convergence in generation and network ownership, coupled with harmonisation of network regulation and regulatory institutional framework, will be increasingly important factors in improving wholesale market integration across all energy-only markets as they experience an increase in the share of renewable energy.




Free-Riding on Energy Efficiency Subsidies: the Case of Natural Gas Furnaces in Canada

Nicholas Rivers and Leslie Shiell

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.nriv
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Abstract:
We assess the extent to which subsidies for home energy efficiency improvements in Canada have been paid to households that would have undertaken the improvements anyway - the so-called free rider rate. We focus on forced-air natural gas furnaces, replaced between April 1, 2007 and March 31, 2011, under both federal and provincial subsidy programs as well as the 2009 federal Home Renovation Tax Credit. Our results indicate that around 50 percent of expenditures under the Canadian subsidy and tax credit programs represented free riding. In the long run, our estimates suggest that over 80 percent of grant recipients would have chosen an identical furnace at the time of replacement. We estimate that the cost effectiveness of the programs in terms of greenhouse gas reduced was between $70 and $110/t CO2, depending on the assumptions made. Further, we find that a substantial majority of the grants were received by middle-and high-income households, such that the grant had a regressive effect on the distribution of income. We conclude that such grants are not an optimal way to improve residential energy efficiency. Keywords: Energy efficiency, Home retrofit subsidies




The Economic Effects of Interregional Trading of Renewable Energy Certificates in the U.S. WECC

Andres P. Perez, Enzo E. Sauma, Francisco D. Munoz, and Benjamin F. Hobbs

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.aper
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Abstract:
In the U.S., individual states enact Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPSs) for renewable electricity production with little coordination. Each state imposes restrictions on the amounts and locations of qualifying renewable generation. Using a co-optimization (transmission and generation) planning model, we quantify the long run economic benefits of allowing flexibility in the trading of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) among the U.S. states belonging to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC). We characterize flexibility in terms of the amount and geographic eligibility of out-of-state RECs that can be used to meet a state’s RPS goal. Although more trade would be expected to have economic benefits, neither the size of these benefits nor the effects of such trading on infrastructure investments, CO2 emissions and energy prices have been previously quantified. We find that up to 90% of the economic benefits are captured if approximately 25% of unbundled RECs are allowed to be acquired from out of state. Furthermore, increasing REC trading flexibility does not necessarily result in either higher transmission investment costs or a substantial impact on CO2 emissions. Finally, increasing REC trading flexibility decreases energy prices in some states and increases them elsewhere, while the WECC-wide average energy price decreases. Keywords: Renewable Portfolio Standards, Renewable Energy Credits, Transmission planning, Western Electricity Coordinating Council, Electricity markets




The Effects of Electric Utility Decoupling on Energy Efficiency

Jenya Kahn-Lang

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.aper
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Abstract:
Most economists agree that revenue decoupling eliminates utilities' incentives to encourage overconsumption of energy, but critics argue that decoupled utilities have no incentive to promote energy efficiency. This paper models the repeated game between regulator and utility and shows that decoupled utilities have greater equilibrium utility demand-side management (DSM) investment in the presence of DSM-related shareholder incentives. It then shows empirically that decoupling is historically associated with significant residential electricity consumption reductions, augmented DSM spending levels, and increased DSM investment efficacy. Keywords: Decoupling, Demand-side management, Energy efficiency, Electric utility regulation




Changes in Energy Intensity in Canada

Saeed Moshiri and Nana Duah

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.4.smos
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Abstract:
Canada is one of the top energy users and CO2 emitters among the OECD countries. However, energy intensity has been declining, on average, by about 1.4 percent since 1980. In this paper, we use the Fisher Ideal Index to determine the contribution of changes in the composition of economic activities and efficiency to a decline in energy intensity in Canada at national, provincial, and industry levels. We also apply panel data estimation methods to further investigate the factors driving energy intensity, efficiency and activity indexes for the period 1981-2008. We test for endogeneity as well as cross-section dependency in the provincial data and control for factors such as climate, policy, and energy endowment. The national and provincial decomposition results suggest that most of the reduction in energy intensity has occurred mainly due to improvements in energy efficiency rather than shifts in economic activities. Within the industry, while energy intensity has declined significantly in manufacturing, it has remained stable in transportation, utilities, and construction, and increased significantly in oil extraction and mining industries. The provincial panel regression results indicate that energy intensity is higher in provinces with higher average incomes, faster population growth, colder climate, and a higher capital-labour ratio, and lower in provinces with higher energy prices and higher investment. The industry panel regression results show that investment has contributed to energy efficiency in utilities and mining and to a shift away from energy-intensive activities in manufacturing and transportation industries. Technological advances have been most effective in increasing energy efficiency in construction and utilities and in decreasing energy-intensive activities in manufacturing industries. The results indicate that although efficiency contributes to a reduction in energy intensity in Canada, increasing activity in energy-intensive industries, such as oil and mining, partially offsets the efficiency gains in other industries.




Book Reviews

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