Equity implications of utility energy conservation programs Page: 2 of 22
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EQUITY IMPLICATIONS OF UTILITY ENERGY CONSERVATION PROGRAMS?*
This paper uses the Residential Energy Consumption Survey undertaken by the Energy
Information Administration in 1990 to estimate the statistical association between household
income and participation in electric utility energy conservation programs and the association
between participation and the electricity consumption. The results indicate that utility rebates,
energy audits, load management programs and other conservation measures tend to be
undertaken at greater frequency by high income households than by low income households.
Participants in conservation programs tend to occupy relatively new and energy efficient
residences and undertake conservation measures other than utility programs, which suggests that
utility sponsored programs are substitutes for other conservation investments. Electricity
consumption during 1990 is not significantly less for households participating in utility programs
than for nonparticipants, which also implies that utility conservation programs are displacing
other conservation investments. Apparently, utility programs are not avoiding costs of new
construction and instead are transferring wealth, particularly to high income participating
*I express appreciation to Gilbert Metcalf, Stephenie Battles, John Pearson, Leslie Nieves,
Lawrence Thurston, Edward Tanzman and Wendel Thompson for helpful comments and to
Stuart Harshbarger for comments and data analysis. This paper is based on work supported by
the U.S. Department of Energy, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning and Program
Evaluation, under contract W-31-109-ENG-38.
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Sutherland, R.J. Equity implications of utility energy conservation programs, report, March 15, 1994; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc668095/m1/2/: accessed January 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.