Renewable Energy Rebound Effect?: Estimating the Impact of State Renewable Energy Financial Incentives on Residential Electricity Consumption
Stephenson, Beth A.
Climate change is a well-documented phenomenon. If left unchecked greenhouse gas emissions will continue global surface warming, likely leading to severe and irreversible impacts. Generating renewable energy has become an increasingly salient topic in energy policy as it may mitigate the impact of climate change. State renewable energy financial incentives have been in place since the mid-1970s in some states and over 40 states have adopted one or more incentives at some point since then. Using multivariate linear and fixed effects regression for the years 2002 through 2012, I estimate the relationship between state renewable energy financial incentives and residential electricity consumption, along with the associated policy implications. My hypothesis is that a renewable energy rebound effect is present; therefore, states with renewable energy financial incentives have a higher rate of residential electricity consumption. I find a renewable energy rebound effect is present in varying degrees for each model, but the results do not definitively indicate how particular incentives influence consumer behavior. States should use caution when adopting and keeping renewable energy financial incentives as this may increase consumption in the short-term. The long-term impact is unclear, making it worthwhile for policymakers to continue studying the potential for renewable energy financial incentives to alter consumer behavior.
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