Working Paper Series

Consumer-Friendly and Environmentally-Sound Electricity Rates for the Twenty-First Century

Authors

  • Lee Friedman, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley

History

  • Goldman School of Public Policy Working Paper (March 2012)

Abstract

This paper emphasizes the importance of bringing off-peak rates down to their
marginal costs so that the current mispricing of electricity does not act as a substantial
deterrent to the reduction of greenhouse gases, as through vehicle electrification. It
considers whether there are feasible, efficient and equitable time-varying electricity rate
structures that will be attractive to large numbers of residential customers with smart
meters. One family of rate structures called Household On and Off Peak (HOOP) plans meets
the efficiency criterion and is promising for meeting the distributional ones. HOOP plans
utilize marginal-cost time-based rates except for fixed infrastructure charges that vary by
customer group and cover nonmarginal expenses. Two alternative equity principles to guide
the assignment of the fixed infrastructure charges to different groups are considered. A
representative sample of California residences with usage data for each 15 minute interval
for a one year period enablessome preliminary tests ofthese HOOP designs. Simple
statewide versions of these designs replicate reasonably closely the actual bill distribution
that results from the independent and far more complex rate structures in use by the three
separate utilities that service these residences, suggesting that each utility could use HOOP
designs to meet the necessary criteria.

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