10/17/2021

Did Regulation Cause Drop in California Energy Consumption

Electricity consumption per capita in California stopped increasing in the 1970s, around the same time policymakers had also enacted stricter energy-efficiency policies, such as mandates on buildings and appliances. As electricity consumption continued to rise in other states, regulation advocates hailed California as a role model for the rest of the nation. But according to an economist at Georgetown University, California’s savings are largely due to other long-run trends.

In a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, economist Arik Levinson assesses the impact of income changes, migration and other demographic and geographic factors on California’s relative electricity consumption. “Even without California’s regulations, its residential energy consumption per capita would have been falling steadily relative to other U.S. states for the past 40 years,” writes Mr. Levinson.

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