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The Environmental Impacts of Fuel Switching Electricity Generators

J. Scott Holladay and Steven Soloway

Year: 2016
Volume: Volume 37
Number: Number 4
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.37.4.jhol
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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

How Does Welfare from Load Shifting Electricity Policy Vary with Market Prices? Evidence from Bulk Storage and Electricity Generation

J. Scott Holladay and Jacob LaRiviere

Year: 2018
Volume: Volume 39
Number: Number 6
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.6.jhol
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We model the electricity market to demonstrate that changes in the price of natural gas can cause the market and non-market impacts of bulk electricity storage to move in opposite directions. We provide evidence consistent with the model using a series of reduced form tests on data from 2005-2010. We then simulate installing bulk electricity storage on the US electric grid. We find that lower natural gas prices generally reduce the market gains and non-market costs of storage. However, direct non-market costs are still positive which means that there is no argument for subsidizing storage to mitigate pollution given the current mix of generating technologies; arguments in favor of bulk storage R&D subsidies ride on public good aspects of technology and dynamic investment incentives for intermittent renewables.

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