Publications

    Houde, Sebastien, and Joseph Aldy. “BELT AND SUSPENDERS AND MORE: THE INCREMENTAL IMPACT OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY SUBSIDIES IN THE PRESENCE OF EXISTING POLICY INSTRUMENTS .” NBER (2014).Abstract

    The effectiveness of investment subsidies depends on the existing array of regulatory and information mandates, especially in the energy efficiency space. Some consumers respond to information disclosure by purchasing energy-efficient durables (and thus may increase the inframarginal take-up of a subsequent subsidy), while other consumers may locate at the lower bound of a minimum efficiency standard (and a given subsidy may be insufficient to change their investment toward a more energy-efficient option). We investigate the incremental impact of energy efficiency rebates in the context of regulatory and information mandates by evaluating the State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program (SEEARP) implemented through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The design of the program - Federal funds allocated to states on a per capita basis with significant discretion in state program design and implementation - facilitates our empirical analysis. Using transaction-level data on appliance sales, we show that most program participants were inframarginal due to important short- term intertemporal substitutions where consumers delayed their purchases by a few weeks. We find evidence that some consumers accelerated the replacement of their old appliances by a few years, but overall the impact of the program on long-term energy demand is likely to be very small. Our estimated measures of cost-effectiveness are an order of magnitude higher than estimated for other energy efficiency programs in the literature. We also show that designing subsidies that reflect, in part, underlying attribute-based regulatory mandates can result in perverse effects, such as upgrading to larger, less energy-efficient models.

    Hogan, William W.Electricity Market Design and Efficient Pricing: Applications for New England and Beyond.” In, 2014.Abstract
    Electricity markets support open access and non-discrimination to allow competition, entry, and innovation. Investment and operation in the competitive sectors follow the incentives induced by prices. To achieve the intended outcomes of reliability and economic efficiency, it is important to have efficient prices that are consistent with the objectives and operation of the underlying system. The basic design of successful organized electricity markets, built on the principles of bid-based, security-constrained economic dispatch, goes a long way towards meeting this objective. However, the real electricity system involves features that are difficult or impossible to fully reconcile within this core model. This calls for an application of the principles of dispatched-based pricing to move as far as possible to achieving the ideal of efficient pricing and minimizing the need for additional payments through uplift and other interventions to maintain reliability. The challenge is constantly present to match the prices to reflect the actual changing conditions of the dispatch. Motivated by issues under review in New England, a summary of the basic principles and illustrative applications provides examples of seeking the first-best efficient prices to mitigate the unintended consequences of second-best out-of-market payments.
    Hogan, William W.Time-of-Use Rates and Real-Time Prices.” In, 2014.Abstract
    Electricity prices that describe marginal costs can vary substantially over time. Fixed rates ignore changing electricity system conditions. Setting prices that differ for certain periods is an approach to approximating the real-time price. If such time-of-use prices are set in advance, they will necessarily miss the full variability of real real-time prices. A simple index indicates that even very good time-of-use rates would miss the majority of the efficiency gain that would result with use of actual real-time prices.