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Quality Uncertainty and the Market for Renewable EnergyEvidence from German consumers

Consumers can choose from a wide range of electricity supply contracts, including green power options. Electricity produced from renewable energy involves information asymmetries. With a sample of more than 2,000 German electricity consumers, we tested the proposition of a “lemon market” for renewable energy in a discrete choice experiment. Specifically, we found that, compared to investor-owned firms, additional willingness-to-pay for renewable energy is approximately double when offered by cooperatives or municipally-owned electricity utilities. Consumers who are experienced with switching suppliers have an additional willingness-to-pay of one Eurocent per kilowatt hour for cooperatives and two Eurocents for public enterprises. The results demonstrate that organizational transformation in dynamically-changing electricity markets is not only driven by political initiatives but also by consumers' choices on the market. Public policy may reduce information asymmetries by promoting government labeling of green energy products.