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Effect of Information and Pricing on Residential Electricity Consumption in Austin, Texas
Last registered on June 10, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Effect of Information and Pricing on Residential Electricity Consumption in Austin, Texas
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004278
Initial registration date
June 04, 2019
Last updated
June 10, 2019 10:06 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Yale University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2013-01-01
End date
2014-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This study examines a field experiment in Texas that includes pricing and informational interventions to encourage energy conservation during summer peak load days when the social cost of generation is the highest. A complementary experimental program also lowers nighttime prices during the off-peak season.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Gillingham, Kenneth. 2019. "Effect of Information and Pricing on Residential Electricity Consumption in Austin, Texas." AEA RCT Registry. June 10. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4278-1.0.
Former Citation
Gillingham, Kenneth. 2019. "Effect of Information and Pricing on Residential Electricity Consumption in Austin, Texas." AEA RCT Registry. June 10. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4278/history/47862.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2013-01-01
Intervention End Date
2014-12-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Electricity consumption
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The 256 households in the Austin, Texas Mueller neighborhood were randomly assigned to one of five groups:

1. Control - 57 homes did not receive any treatment during 2013 and 2014. Like the other groups, they also had appliance-level and circuit-level metering.
2. Passive Information - 44 homes were provided access to an online portal that tracks appliance-level electricity use.\footnote{Each participant had access to an online portal. For the portal treatment group, this was the only treatment. The portal displayed monthly whole home energy use in kWh, monthly energy costs in dollars per appliance, energy generation cost in dollars if the participant had solar panels, real-time energy consumption in kWh, monthly energy cost comparison to other participants within the same zip code, and monthly energy usage trends.}
3. Active Information - 46 homes were sent a text message appeal 24 hours prior to every critical peak pricing event stating ``A Pecan Street Project critical peak event is taking place tomorrow from 4 PM to 7 PM.''
4. Active Information + Recommendation - 47 homes received the same text message with one of three recommended actions: ``Pre-cool your home,'' ``Reduce your air conditioning usage,'' or ``Do not use your clothes dryer.''
5. Pricing - 62 homes faced critical peak pricing during the summer months (June-September) of 2013 and 2014. They received a text message 24 hours prior to each event stating ``Tomorrow is a Critical Peak Pricing event. Your experimental electric rate will be \$0.64 per kilowatt hour from 4 PM - 7 PM. Pecan Street Inc. Pricing.'' During the months of March, April, May, November, and December, when wholesale prices at night are low, they received a text message 24 hours prior to the start of the nighttime pricing stating, for example ``Pricing Trial Reminder: November and December are wind enhancement months.'' The lower experimental price was 2 cents/kWh. The pricing group received a text message one day prior to the beginning of each wind night pricing month.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
households
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
256 households
Sample size: planned number of observations
96 million household-minutes
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
See experimental design
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers