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Simulating the impacts of climate change, prices and population on California’s residential electricity consumption

An Erratum to this article was published on 29 June 2012


This study simulates the impacts of higher temperatures resulting from anthropogenic climate change on residential electricity consumption for California. Flexible temperature response functions are estimated by climate zone, which allow for differential effects of days in different temperature bins on households’ electricity consumption. The estimation uses a comprehensive household level dataset of electricity bills for California’s three investor-owned utilities (Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Southern California Edison). The results suggest that the temperature response varies greatly across climate zones. Simulation results using a downscaled version of the National Center for Atmospheric Research global circulation model suggest that holding population constant, total consumption for the households considered may increase by up to 55% by the end of the century. The study further simulates the impacts of higher electricity prices and different scenarios of population growth. Finally, simulations were conducted consistent with higher adoption of cooling equipment in areas which are not yet saturated, as well as gains in efficiency due to aggressive energy efficiency policies.

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  1. Two closely related and in parts overlapping companion papers contain more detail on the weather data extrapolation. Aroonruengsawat and Auffhammer (2009) provides simulation results for the households in the low income CARE program. Aroonruengsawat and Auffhammer (2011) further explore the sources of heterogeneity in the response function due to differences in the characteristics of the population and housing stock.

  2. After removing outlier bills, we compared the population average daily consumption of bills with billing cycles ranging from 25–35 days to the average daily consumption of bills for any length. The average daily consumption by climate zone in the subset of bills we sample from is roughly \(\frac{1}{10}\)th of a standard deviation higher than the mean daily consumption of the complete population including bills of any length.


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Correspondence to Maximilian Auffhammer.

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Auffhammer, M., Aroonruengsawat, A. Simulating the impacts of climate change, prices and population on California’s residential electricity consumption. Climatic Change 109 (Suppl 1), 191–210 (2011).

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