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Electricity Disclosure: Will It Transform Electricity Markets?

Kevin Lane, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, Central European University, Dept of Env Sciences and Policy
Herbert Ritter, E.V.A., Austrian Energy Agency



In a regulated monopoly environment, the utility bill is often the only perceived characteristic of electricity service. With the liberalization of electricity markets, electricity becomes a product with multiple characteristics. The option of choosing between products and providers naturally creates the need for more information related to the electricity the consumer is buying. Therefore, electricity disclosure—providing the consumer with information related to the characteristics of purchased electricity—is becoming an integral component of liberalized markets.

Following the footsteps of several states in the US and some other pioneers worldwide, in June 2003 the European Union adopted Directive (2003/54/EC). The directive required, among other rules and principles for the completion of the internal electricity market, mandatory disclosure of information on the origin of the electricity from suppliers. A European-wide, sixinstitute research project titled “Carbon Consciousness and Consumer Choice in Electricity” has been providing guidance for the efficient design of the European scheme. The project has studied residential and commercial consumers’ preferences (through focus groups and a large EU-wide telephone survey) towards a disclosure regime, as well as making an attempt to understand the potential impacts of disclosure.

The present paper will present some of the results of the project, combined with evidence from the literature documenting the impacts of disclosure schemes worldwide, and answer the following questions. Does, or will, electricity disclosure transform electricity markets towards more environmentally sustainable ones? If we empower the consumer with information on their electricity product or supplier, will this influence their choice? Beyond the consumer effect, can disclosure transform the market through other pathways? How will disclosure interact with existing policies, such as existing voluntary markets for ‘green’ electricity? What other characteristics of disclosure make it an essential component of liberalised electricity markets?


Download this paper as pdf: 748.pdf

Panels of the 2004 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Panel 1. Residential Buildings: Technologies, Design, Performance Analysis, and Building Industry Trends

Panel 2. Residential Buildings: Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation

Panel 3. Commercial Buildings: Technologies, Design, Performance Analysis, and Building Industry Trends

Panel 4. Commercial Buildings: Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation

Panel 5. Utility Regulation and Deregulation: Incentives, Strategies, and Policies

Panel 6. Market Transformation: Designing for Lasting Change

Panel 7. Human and Social Dimensions of Energy Use: Trends and Their Implications

Panel 8. Energy and Environmental Policy: Changing the Climate for Energy Efficiency

Panel 9. Efficient Buildings in Efficient Communities

Panel 10. Roundtables: Thinking Outside the Box

Panel 11. Appliances and Equipment