Evaluation of Peak Pricing on Single-Family Residential Water Consumption in Seattle
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Public water utilities have increasingly turned to increasing block rate price structures to reduce water consumption and signal the high environmental costs of water supply. Hsu evaluates the impact of a new and substantially higher price block added to the existing block rate price structure in Seattle (often referred to as a 'shock rate') which only affected those who consume very high quantities of water. The public water utility in Seattle added such a rate to its existing price structure in 2001, and has subsequently seen significant decreases in per capita water demand. Rigorous evaluation of policies such as the shock rate is often constrained by the limited availability of appropriate data that describes individual consumption decisions. Much of the previous literature of water demand relies upon aggregated data which often results in theoretically implausible results such as price elasticities with the wrong signs. As a result of these empirical data limitations, there has also been limited application of theoretically appropriate models such as DCC models within the literature of demand for water and other resources. Hsu applies a DCC model to a new, rich source of observational micro-data to evaluate changes in water consumption in Seattle as a result of the new pricing structure. A comprehensive billing database of water consumption for individual households in the period from 1991 to 2007 was obtained from Seattle Public Utilities. The DCC model was developed as a theoretically appropriate model to describe realistically the effect of inclined block rate price structures on water consumption.
- The Water Center 
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