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Are consumers willing to pay more for electricity from cooperatives? results from an online choice experiment in Germany

With liberalization in 1998, numerous firms have entered the German retail electricity market, including
newly formed consumer cooperatives. Based on Transaction Cost Economics, we develop a theoretical
framework seeking to explain preferences for electricity supplied by cooperatives from a consumer
perspective. Drawing on a convenience sample of 287 German electricity consumers and Choice Experiment data from an online survey, we estimate Willingness-to-Pay values for organizational attributes of electricity suppliers, while accounting for observed and unobserved heterogeneity. Consumers in the sample exhibit a large Willingness-to-Pay for renewable energy. Our results also indicate a substantial Willingness-to-Pay for transparent pricing, participation in decision making, and local suppliers. Democratic decision making – a distinct feature of cooperatives – exhibits positive Willingness-to-Pay values for approximately one fifth of the sample. Taken together, our findings suggest a slightly higher Willingness-to-Pay for electricity produced by cooperatives. Limitations of applied sampling and other important aspects of energy transition are also discussed.