Several HEEP affiliates participated in a panel on January 3, 2015, “Explaining the Energy Paradox,” at the annual meeting of the Allied Social Science Association (which includes the American Economic Association) in Boston. “Energy paradox” (and the closely related term, “energy-efficiency gap”) refers to the apparent phenomenon that energy-efficient technologies, while offering considerable promise for reducing the financial costs and environmental damages associated with energy use, are not adopted by consumers and businesses to the degree that would seem be justified, even on a purely financial basis.
Robert Stavins, HEEP Director, organized the panel and made an introductory presentation. Other speakers were:
- Michael Greenstone, Milton Friedman Professor in Economics and Director, Energy Policy Institute, University of Chicago, and former HEEP Associate Scholar. Professor Greenstone’s presentation was titled “Do Energy Efficiency Investments Deliver? Evidence from the Weatherization Assistance Program,” based on research conducted with Meredith Fowlie and Catherine Wolfram, both at the University of California, Berkeley.
- Karen Palmer, Research Director and Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future (RFF). Dr. Palmer’s presentation, titled “Limited Attention and the Residential Energy Efficiency Gap,” was based on research conducted with Margaret Walls, also at RFF.
- Erich Muehlegger, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of California, Davis and former HEEP Faculty Fellow, responded to the first two presentations.
- Richard Newell, Gendell Professor of Energy and Environmental Economics at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Director, Duke University Energy Initiative. Professor Newell is a former HEEP Pre-Doctoral Fellow. His presentation was based on research conducted with Juha Siikamäki (RFF) and was titled “Time Preferences and Energy Efficiency.”
- Hunt Allcott, Assistant Professor of Economics at New York University and a former HEEP Pre-Doctoral Fellow. Professor Allcott’s presentation was titled “Tagging and Targeting of Energy Efficiency Subsidies.” It was based on research conducted with Christopher Knittel (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a HEEP Associate Scholar) and Dmitry Taubinsky (University of California and Harvard University, and a former HEEP Pre-Doctoral Fellow).
- Kenneth Gillingham, Assistant Professor of Economics at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, responded to Professor Newell’s and Allcott’s presentations.
Links to presentations by Allcott, Newell, Muehlegger, Palmer, and Stavins may be found at the bottom of this page. There is also a link to a closely-related paper by Allcott, Knittel, and Taubinsky.
Professor Stavins’ presentation was based partly on a research project conducted by HEEP over the last two years, “Assessing the Energy-Efficiency Gap.” A HEEP discussion paper that presents this research may be found here. Richard Newell (see bullet on presentation above) was Co-Director of the project, with Professor Stavins. The project was supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Photo credit: Robert Stowe