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Electric Utility Demand Side Management in Canada

Government, utility, and private subsidies for energy efficiency play a prominent role in current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, yet the effectiveness of this policy approach is in dispute. One opportunity for empirical analysis is provided by the past energy efficiency subsidies, called demand-side management programs, offered by electric utilities in North America over several decades. Between 1990 and 2005, most electric utilities in Canada administered such programs, with total spending of $2.9 billion (CDN$2005). This paper uses the significant inter-annual variation in demand side management spending during this period to econometrically estimate the effectiveness of these subsidies. The resulting estimates indicate that these programs have not had a substantial impact on overall electricity consumption in Canada.

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Energy Specializations: Energy Efficiency; Electricity – Markets and Prices ; Electricity – Policy and Regulation

JEL Codes:
Q55 - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation
D42 - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design: Monopoly
E60 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General

Keywords: Electric utilities, energy efficiency, demand side management, free riders, subsidy.

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol32-No4-6

Published in Volume 32, Number 4 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.