Robert I. Harris
201 Science Drive
Durham, NC 27708
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|November 2018||Heterogeneous Environmental and Grid Benefits from Rooftop Solar and the Costs of Inefficient Siting Decisions|
with Steven E. Sexton, A. Justin Kirkpatrick, Nicholas Z. Muller: w25241
Federal and state policies in the U.S. subsidize electricity generation from 1.4 million rooftop solar arrays because of pollution avoidance benefits and grid congestion relief. Yet because these benefits vary across the U.S. according to solar irradiance, technologies of electricity generators, and grid characteristics, the value of these benefits, and, consequently, the optimal subsidy, are largely unknown. Policy, therefore, is unlikely to have induced efficient solar investments. This paper (1) provides the first systematic, theoretically consistent, and empirically valid estimates of pollution damages avoidable by solar capacity in each U.S. zip code, (2) relates these external benefits to subsidy levels in each U.S. state, and (3) estimates the share of these benefits that spillover ...