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The Impact of Industrial Opt-Out from Utility Sponsored Energy Efficiency Programs

Gale Boyd, Matthew Doolin, Yu Ma and Jennifer Weiss

Working Papers from U.S. Census Bureau, Center for Economic Studies

Abstract: Industry accounts for one-third of energy consumption in the US. Studies suggest that energy efficiency opportunities represent a potential energy resource for regulated utilities and have resulted in rate of return regulated demand-side management (DSM) and energy efficiency (EE) programs. However, many large customers are allowed to self-direct or opt-out. In the Carolinas (NC and SC), over half of industrial and large commercial customers have selected to opt out. Although these customers claim they invest in EE improvements when it is economic and cost-effective to do so, there is no mechanism to validate whether they actually achieved energy savings. This project examines the industrial energy efficiency between the program participants and non participants in the Carolinas by utilizing the non-public Census of Manufacturing data and the public list of firms that have chosen to opt out. We compare the relative energy efficiency between the stay-in and opt-out plants. The t-test results suggest opt-out plants are less efficient. However, the opt-out decisions are not random; large plants or plants belonging to large firms are more likely to opt out, possibly because they have more information and resources. We conduct a propensity score matching method to account for factors that could affect the opt-out decisions. We find that the opt-out plants perform at least as well or slightly better than the stay-in plants. The relative performance of the opt-out firms suggest that they may not need utility program resources to obtain similar levels of efficiency from the stay-in group.

Keywords: Demand-side management; energy efficiency; energy policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 20 pages
Date: 2023-10
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eff, nep-ene and nep-reg
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