Do Energy Efficiency Investments Deliver at the Right Time?
Electricity cannot be cost-effectively stored even for short periods of time. Consequently, wholesale electricity prices vary widely across hours of the day with peak prices frequently exceeding off-peak prices by a factor of ten or more. Most analyses of energy-efficiency policies ignore this variation, focusing on total energy savings without regard to when those savings occur. In this paper we demonstrate the importance of this distinction using novel evidence from a rebate program for air conditioners in Southern California. We estimate electricity savings using hourly smart-meter data and show that savings tend to occur disproportionately during hours when the value of electricity is high. This significantly increases the overall value of the program, especially once we account for the large capacity payments received by generators to guarantee their availability in high-demand hours. We then compare this estimated savings profile with engineering-based estimates for this program as well as a variety of alternative energy-efficiency investments. The results illustrate a surprisingly large amount of variation in economic value across investments. Full Paper
Associate Professor, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley Faculty Director at the Energy Institute at Haas
Lucas Davis is an Associate Professor at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley where he serves as Faculty Director at the Energy Institute at Haas. Prior to moving to Berkeley in 2009, he was an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on energy and environmental markets, and in particular, on electricity and natural gas regulation, pricing in competitive and non-competitive markets, and the economic and business impacts of environmental policy.