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Carbon Mitigation Costs for the Commercial Sector: Discrete-Continuous Choice Analysis of Multifuel Energy Demand

By William Pizer and Richard Newell


We estimate a carbon mitigation cost curve for the U.S. commercial sector based on econometric estimation of the responsiveness of fuel demand and equipment choices to energy price changes. The model econometrically estimates fuel demand conditional on fuel choice, which is characterized by a multinomial logit model. Separate estimation of end uses (e.g., heating, cooking) using the 1995 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey allows for exceptionally detailed estimation of price responsiveness disaggregated by end use and fuel type. We then construct aggregate long-run elasticities, by fuel type, through a series of simulations; own-price elasticities range from –0.9 for district heat services to –2.9 for fuel oil. The simulations form the basis of a marginal cost curve for carbon mitigation, which suggests that a price of $20 per ton of carbon would result in an 8% reduction in commercial carbon emissions, and a price of $100 per ton would result in a 28% reduction.commercial energy demand, carbon policy, climate change, discrete choice

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