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Loan Management: Rationing Versus Peak Load Pricing

Rising costs in the electric utility industry have focused attention on ways to control or adjust kilowatt-hours (kWh) consumed during certain hours of the day. The economist's solution has tended to involve support for peak load pricing (PLP). In theory, PLP structures are supposed to reflect the opportunity cost to society of providing electricity at particular hours. However, the problem of measuring marginal opportunity costs is difficult at best, and few electricity-pricing schemes that have been proposed set prices equal to marginal opportunity costs. Furthermore, there are costs involved in using price signals: monitoring hourly electricity consumption involves further capital expenditures; consumer acceptance and understanding of complex pricing schemes is questionable; and, even if the "correct" signals are given, it is not clear that residential (and other) consumers are responsive to higher prices during periods of peak usage, and this ambiguity complicates the electric utility planning process.

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Energy Specializations: Energy Modeling – Energy Data, Modeling, and Policy Analysis; Electricity – Markets and Prices

JEL Codes:
E61 - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
D42 - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design: Monopoly

Keywords: Electric utilities, Load management, Peak load pricing, Rationing

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol2-No1-6

Published in Volume 2, Number 1 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.