Research press release


Nature Energy

Energy: Health and financial impacts of time-of-use energy rates raise equity concerns


今回Lee WhiteとNicole Sintovは、米国南西部の公益法人が行った社会実験に参加することにした世帯の部分集合である、7500世帯から得られたデータを解析した。参加したそれぞれの世帯は、エネルギー消費が最大になる夜間により多くの料金が請求される2種類の時間帯別料金のいずれか、あるいは対照群に割り当てられた。その結果、著者たちは、時間帯別料金に割り当てられた全ての世帯の請求額が増えたことを見いだした。しかし、高齢者や障害者のいる世帯では、非脆弱世帯と比べて、時間帯別料金の請求額がより多かった。さらに、障害者のいる世帯は、時間帯別料金に割り当てられた場合、暑さに関わる理由で診察を受ける傾向も高かった。また、ヒスパニック系世帯や低所得世帯では、時間帯別料金の請求額はそれほど増えなかったが、ヒスパニック系世帯の健康転帰は悪化した。


Products that aim to change energy usage patterns, like time-of-use tariffs, can lead to disproportionately negative financial and health impacts for some vulnerable groups, suggests a paper published this week in Nature Energy. Such demand-side response measures are gaining prominence, but can be detrimental for the many households already struggling to balance energy costs with other necessities, such as food and medicine.

Lee White and Nicole Sintov analysed data from a subset of 7,500 households that opted to participate in a pilot program conducted by a utility company in the southwestern United States. Households were assigned to one of two time-of-use rates, where they were charged more for energy use during peak evening hours, or a control group. The authors found that all households assigned to a time-of-use rate experienced bill increases. However, elderly people and those with disabilities experienced greater bill increases on time-of-use rates compared to non-vulnerable households. Those with disabilities were also more likely to seek medical attention for heat-related reasons when assigned to a time-of-use rate. Although Hispanic and low-income households saw lower bill increases on time-of-use rates, Hispanic households experienced more negative health outcomes.

This study shows that effects of demand-side response can vary across sociodemographic groups, suggesting that such measures must be tested before widespread implementation to ensure that impacts do not exacerbate existing inequalities. This research was carried out during the summer in a hot climate, and so results may not generalize to different rate designs or climate conditions.

doi: 10.1038/s41560-019-0507-y

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