Working Papers

Becka Brolinson

Many electric utilities in the United States have replaced flat pricing schedules with increasing block prices (IBPs) to decrease aggregate electricity use without imposing costs on low-income households. Under IBPs, the price per kilowatt-hour increases as electricity use increases. It is not clear, however, whether IBPs decrease aggregate energy use and protect low-income households. I use monthly billing records and demographic data to estimate price elasticities of energy demand by income. I use these elasticities to show that IBPs increase total electricity use relative to a revenue-neutral flat price. Finally, I find that IBPs decrease electricity bills for low-income households.

Work in Progress

Does Energy Star Certification Decrease Energy Use in Commercial Buildings?

Becka Brolinson, Karen Palmer, & Margaret Walls

A number of policies and programs are aimed at reducing energy use in buildings---building energy codes, disclosure laws, energy use benchmarking, and mandated or subsidized energy audits. Many of these initiatives are enacted at the state or local level. At the federal level, one of the main programs is Energy Star Certification, which provides a label to top energy performing buildings. Recent evidence finds that Energy Star Certification increases building rent and sales prices by up to 6 percent. However, it is not clear whether this increase is being driven by a decrease in utility expenditures, which is then capitalized into rents and prices, or whether the label is simply a signal of other desirable building attributes. In this paper, we investigate whether Energy Star certification decreases utility expenditures as the program suggests. To answer this question, we use unique data on over 4,000 office buildings from the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries (NCREIF) combined with Energy Star data from the U.S. EPA to investigate the relationship between energy star certification, building rents, and utility expenditures. We use a matching strategy to show that there is little to no decrease in utility expenditure for commercial office buildings in the years leading up to and following Energy Star Certification. 

Valuing Public Transit: The L-Train Slowdown in Brooklyn

Becka Brolinson

Bunching in Residential Electricity Consumption

Becka Brolinson, Laura Grant



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