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Lessons from Utility Conservation Programs

Franz Wirl

Year: 2000
Volume: Volume21
Number: Number 1
DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol21-No1-4
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This paper considers the design, incentives and effectiveness of U.S. demand side management (DSM) programs and tries to explain why this ambitious, almost unanimously embraced initiative failed. Problems on the demand side result from consumers' private information that implies that substantial principal-agent slippage must accompany any conservation incentive the utility offers to the consumer. Moreover, the regulatory incentives induce the American utility to select inefficient programs. Therefore, the utility has little to gain from deterring such strategic reactions and cheating by consumers. As a consequence, the reported conservation exists largely on paper but not in reality. This ex-post assessment is important for two reasons. First, European countries (Scandinavia, Germany, Austria and others) have been eager to repeat this American regulatory 'success'. Second, the problems addressed in this paper would apply to another round of conservation programs induced by the concern about global warming.

Electric Utility Demand Side Management in Canada

Nic Rivers and Mark Jaccard

Year: 2011
Volume: Volume 32
Number: Number 4
DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol32-No4-6
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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.

Consumer Savings, Price, and Emissions Impacts of increasing Demand Response in the Midcontinent Electricity Market

Steve Dahlke and Matt Prorok

Year: 2019
Volume: Volume 40
Number: Number 3
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.40.3.sdah
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This paper estimates consumer savings, CO2 emissions reductions, and price effects from increasing demand response (DR) dispatch in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) electricity market. To quantify market effects, we develop a dynamic supply and demand model to explore a range of DR deployment scenarios. The study is motivated by the existence of regulatory and market rule barriers to market-based deployment of DR resources in the MISO region. We show annual consumer savings from increased market-based DR can vary from $1.3 million to $17.6 million under typical peak operating conditions, depending on the amount of DR resources available for market dispatch and the frequency of deployment. Consumer savings and other market effects increase exponentially during atypical periods with tight supply and high prices. Additionally, we find that DR deployment often reduces CO2 emissions, but the magnitude of emissions reductions varies depending on the emissions content of marginal generation at the time and location of deployment. The results of this study suggest regulators and other stakeholders should focus policy efforts to reducing regulatory barriers to DR deployment in wholesale markets, particularly in locations that experience high price spikes, to improve market efficiency and achieve cost savings for consumers.

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