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Energy Journal Issue

The Energy Journal
Volume 30, Number 2

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Hicks, Hayek, Hotelling, Hubbert, and Hysteria or Energy, Exhaustion, Environmentalism, and Etatism in the 21st Century

Richard L. Gordon

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol30-No2-1View Abstract

In 2008, energy independence is making an unwelcome return in a greatly expanded form. The old import-danger excuse is supplemented by claims that exhaustion and global warming also will be cured. The import danger threat remains overblown. Exhaustion is not an impending problem and, if it were, it has no policy implications for anything including for imports. Similarly, whatever is true about global warming, it does not imply import controls.

The Global Natural Gas Market: Will Transport Cost Reductions Lead to Lower Prices?

Knut Einar Rosendahl and Eirik Lund Sagen

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol30-No2-2View Abstract

Reduced transportation costs are usually associated with lower import prices, increased trade and price convergence. In this paper we show that lower transport costs can actually lead to higher import prices in some regions, and price divergence between import regions. Using both a general theoretical approach and a numerical model of the global natural gas market, we demonstrate that the price effect from transport cost reductions depend on the relative distances between regional markets, the choice of transport technology, and supply and demand responsiveness in the different markets. Our numerical results suggest that European consumers would generally be better off if pipeline costs are reduced, while North American consumers would be better off if LNG costs are reduced.

Powering Progress: Restructuring, Competition, and R&D in the U.S. Electric Utility Industry

Paroma Sanyal and Linda R. Cohen

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol30-No2-3View Abstract

This paper investigates the R&D behavior of regulated firms when they transition to a competitive environment. Using data from the US electricity market from 1990-2000, we analyze how competition, institutional changes, and political constraints have contributed to the precipitous decline in R&D expenditure by regulated utilities. We find that firms reduce their R&D significantly at the very early stages of restructuring or even when they expect restructuring to occur. Once the emerging institutional structure becomes clear, R&D spending recovers but is later offset by another decline when restructuring legislation is enacted. In addition, greater competition and the nearing of such competition adversely affects research spending. In aggregate, R&D declines by 78.6 percent after electricity markets are restructured. Firm and state characteristics matter, and a majority of the research is conducted by large generation companies located in pro-research states, especially if they are part of a larger holding company. Such characteristics have a different impact on research spending in the pre-and post-restructured periods.

The Willingness to Pay for Renewable Energy Sources: The Case of Italy with Socio-demographic Determinants

Carlo Andrea Bollino

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol30-No2-4View Abstract

According to the Renewable Sources EU Directive 2001/77/CE, the Italian Government goal is to attain the share of 22% in RES electricity production in 2010. In such context it becomes crucial to explore the existence of consumer's Willingness to Pay (WTP) in order to use renewable energy in the electricity production. This study is based on a national survey with 1601 interviews made, in Italy, in November 2006. My aim is twofold. Firstly, I wish to assess the consumer's WTP which is the basis for market sustainability of such energy policy goal and, secondly, I evaluate the share of the necessary public support to RES policy which is covered by the aggregate WTP of Italians. This is an implicit assessment of the plausibility/acceptance of the announced target policy. In my survey framework I obtain the consumer's WTP with two different approaches and to this end the sample has been divided in two parts. In the first sub-sample I propose the full price vector with a downward elicitation format while in the second sub-sample I use the same price vector with an upward elicitation format. In this paper I focus on the different uncertainty degree that affects respondent's choices. I take care econometrically of this issue using an individual stochastic valuation approach and a referendum approach. I obtain for most of the estimated models that estimates of WTP are in agreement with other international results. The aggregate WTP for RES in Italy, however, is (still) not enough to attain the Italian Government goal in 2010.

Long Memory in Oil and Refined Products Markets

Kyongwook Choi and Shawkat Hammoudeh

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol30-No2-5View Abstract

We test for the presence of long memory in daily oil and refined products prices absolute return, squared return and conditional volatility, using several parametric and semiparametric methods. This study finds strong evidence of long memory (LM) in the daily absolute and squared spot and futures returns for crude oil, gasoline and heating oil but at different degrees. The FIGARCH model also demonstrates strong evidence of LM for volatility for most of oil and products prices returns, with also different resilience levels. Structural breaks have only the partial effects of slightly reducing persistence for just absolute and squared returns. Examining the forecasting behavior of two competing models, the less parsimonious ARFIMA which satisfies the LM property, and the parsimonious ARMA with short-term processes, the ARFIMA model provides significantly better out-of-sample forecasts at all forecasting horizons for all three petroleum types.

Willingness to Pay for Improved Quality of Electricity Supply Across Business Type and Location

Mark Morrison and Craig Nalder

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol30-No2-6View Abstract

Regulatory authorities in many countries are experimenting with mechanisms for providing electricity distributors with financial incentives to improve quality of supply. In designing these incentives it is apparent that customers preferences have rarely been obtained for consideration in the regulatory process. As a result, there is relatively limited understanding of customers willingness to pay for improved quality of electricity supply. Several studies have examined the willingness of households to pay for improved quality of electricity supply, however, few studies have examined the willingness of businesses to pay for improved quality of supply. In this study we use choice modelling with random parameters logit models to identify the willingness to pay of business for various service related attributes. Furthermore, we examine the values held by both service and manufacturing businesses, from both rural/ regional and urban areas, and observe the differences between them. We find several differences in willingness to pay across business types and locations, however overall the value estimates are relatively homogeneous.

Willingness to Pay for Energy Conservation and Free-Ridership on Subsidization: Evidence from Germany

Peter Grosche and Colin Vance

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol30-No2-7View Abstract

Understanding the determinants of home-efficiency improvements is significant to a range of energy policy issues, including the reduction of fossil fuel use and environmental protection. This paper analyzes retrofit choices by assembling a unique data set merging a nationwide household survey from Germany with regional data on wages and construction costs. To explore the influence of both heterogeneous preferences and correlation among the utility of alternatives, we estimate conditional-, random parameters-, and error components logit models that parameterize the influence of costs, energy savings, and household-level socioeconomic attributes on the likelihood of undertaking one of 16 renovation options. We use the model coefficients to derive household-specific marginal Willingness to Pay estimates, and with these assess the extent to which free-ridership may undermine the effectiveness of recently implemented programs that subsidize the costs of retrofits.

The Incidence of a U.S. Carbon Tax: A Lifetime and Regional Analysis

Kevin A. Hassett, Aparna Mathur and Gilbert E. Metcalf

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol30-No2-8View Abstract

This paper measures the direct and indirect incidence of a carbon tax using current income and two measures of lifetime income to rank households. Our results suggest that carbon taxes are more regressive when annual income is used as a measure of economic welfare than when lifetime income measures are used. Further, the direct component of the tax, in any given year, is significantly more regressive than the indirect component. We observe a modest shift over time with the direct component of carbon taxes becoming less regressive and the indirect component becoming more regressive. These effects mostly offset each other and the distribution of the total tax burden has not changed much over time. In addition we find that regional variation has fluctuated over the years of our analysis. By 2003 there is little systematic variation in carbon tax burdens across regions of the country.

Understanding Crude Oil Prices

James D. Hamilton

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol30-No2-9View Abstract

This paper examines the factors responsible for changes in crude oil prices. The paper reviews the statistical behavior of oil prices, relates this to the predictions of theory, and looks in detail at key features of petroleum demand and supply. Topics discussed include the role of commodity speculation, OPEC, and resource depletion. The paper concludes that although scarcity rent made a negligible contribution to the price of oil in 1997, it could now begin to play a role.