June 30, 2013

Overriding Consumer Preferences with Energy Regulations

  • Ted Gayer

  • W. Kip Viscusi

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The recent wave of enacted and proposed U.S. energy regulations imposes energy efficiency standards on light bulbs, appliances, and motor vehicles based on the unsupported assumption that consumers and firms are irrational and that energy efficiency should be the paramount concern. The regulatory analyses do not document these purported failures in consumer choices or firms' energy utilization decisions with any empirical evidence. The preponderance of the benefits that agencies claim for the regulations is derived from private benefits to consumers and firms attributable to lower energy costs. Without these benefits, the regulatory costs would greatly exceed the benefits. The regulatory analyses consider only mandates as a means of achieving energy-efficiency improvements and ignore other policy options.

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