The Impact of Price on Residential Demand for Electricity and Natural Gas

Peer Reviewed
24 November 2011

Felipe Vásquez Lavín, Larry Dale, Michael Hanemann, Mithra Moezzi

Climate change will affect the supply of many resources that households consume, including electricity, and natural gas. Although price is considered an effective tool for controlling demand for many resources that households consume, including electricity and natural gas, its impact is poorly understood. Part of the problem is that demand is confounded by block pricing and the interrelated consumption of electricity and natural gas, which prevent easy estimation of price impacts. Block pricing suggests that the purchaser controls the marginal price of a commodity by the quantity purchased, turning price into an endogenous variable. Interrelated consumption indicates that demand for one resource is affected by the price of another. These complications have prevented the accurate estimation of the price elasticity of demand for resources and consequently the household-level impact of climate change, which will affect resource supplies. This paper evaluates statistical tools for estimating the joint demand for natural gas and electricity and develops initial estimates of price elasticity. We use data from the Federal Residential Energy Consumption Survey, along with utility price data, to estimate the household demand for electricity and natural gas in California as separate commodities. We then use a joint estimation procedure to evaluate the household demand for natural gas and electricity. Finally, we evaluate the degree to which block pricing and interrelated demand affect the price elasticity of demand for the two resources. The paper ends by noting the continuing uncertainty surrounding the use of price to manage household demand for electricity and natural gas, and by extension, for water.

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Sustainable Development Goals
Publication reference
Lavín, F. V., Dale, L., Hanemann, M., & Moezzi, M. (2011). The impact of price on residential demand for electricity and natural gas. Climatic Change, 109(S1), 171–189. doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0297-0

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Publication | 28 December 2011