Thanks to a $214,000 grant from E2e Project, a cross-disciplinary research effort at Appalachian State University will study behavioral responses of electricity customers that may ultimately impact consumer energy conservation.

The study, entitled 'A University-Utility Collaboration to Study Consumer Responses to Electronic Notifications', will examine whether or not electronic notifications encourage consumers to conserve energy.

The research team will be composed of individuals from Appalachian's Department of Economics, the Appalachian Energy Center and New River Light & Power.

The researchers will learn how well-received electronic messaging is in the average residence, and then investigate how electronic peer-comparison messages influence consumer behavior.

The economics faculty from Appalachian, Todd Cherry, Dave McEvoy and Tanga Mohr, will lead the study. They will partner with Appalachian Vice Provost for Research Jeff Ramsdell, Georgia State Economics Professor Garth Heutel, and NRLP Manager Ed Miller on the project. Research partners Jason Hoyle and Janet Miller from the Appalachian Energy Center will also support the project.


“Encouraging conservation reduces the external cost of emissions from burning fossil fuels and can reduce electric bills for consumers,” said Cherry. “Learning how to better encourage electricity conservation will benefit utilities, industry, government and the public.”

Beginning in 2018, the research will be funded by a two-year, $214,000 grant from the E2e Project, a joint initiative of University of California – Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Chicago.

Cherry, Ramsdell, Hoyle and Miller have previously collaborated on energy research at Appalachian with support from the Research Opportunities Initiative (ROI) funding from the University of North Carolina General Administration.

Related: UNC GA grant supports Appalachian, New River Light and Power and energy research across UNC system

Cherry said that the unique partnership between the researchers and NRLP is key to furthering energy research in North Carolina. NRLP, which provides electricity to the campus and surrounding municipality, is owned by the university and an enthusiastic partner in sustainability initiatives.

About the Economics Department
The Department of Economics in the Walker College of Business is at the center of the university's strategic initiatives in sustainability, with a group of accomplished environmental and natural resource economists that work on challenges related to renewable energy, climate change policy, fisheries, trade and development. The Department's Center for Economic Research and Policy Analysis is a core unit of Appalachian's Research Institute for Energy, Environment, and Economics. The Department of Economics is ranked among leading U.S. economics departments for overall research output, and it is ranked among the top US departments in environmental and experimental economics. Learn More.

About New River Light and Power
In 1915, Dr. Blanford Barnard Dougherty, president of Appalachian Training School, commissioned construction of Boone's first electric generating plant, New River Light and Power (NRLP), on the South Fork of the New River. Today, NRLP, a non-profit operating unit of Appalachian State University, serves nearly 8,100 residential and commercial customers within the area in and surrounding the Town of Boone with power purchased from Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation, headquartered in Lenoir. As the first utility to serve northwestern North Carolina, NRLP established a tradition of responsible and prompt service. In April 2012, NRLP earned Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) recognition from the American Public Power Association.

Published: Dec 1, 2017 8:53am


Research on NASCAR from Walker College of Business economics professor Pete Groothuis was recently referenced in an article posted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

The article, "Following in the Family Footsteps When children enter a parent's profession, they probably aren't doing it blindly — they may have smart economic reasons," written by David A. Price, pulls from Groothuis' research on Influences on sponsorship deals in NASCAR: indirect evidence from time on camera, which was originally published by Applied Economics in 2014.

According to Prices' article:

In addition to human capital, researchers have found, the financial returns to footstep-following may be boosted by brand-name capital. One high-profile example is that children of celebrities in sports and entertainment may be drawn to their parents' fields in part by the doors opened by the family name. Economist Peter Groothuis of Appalachian State University has tested this idea statistically with regard to NASCAR and Formula 1 race drivers and found support for it.

Groothuis determined that as of 2005, some 10.3 percent of active NASCAR drivers were sons of NASCAR drivers — a pattern that had been more or less consistent over the previous two decades. After analyzing sponsorship deals and determining each driver's "value of time on camera," or VTOC, during a race, he and co-authors Kurt Rotthoff of Seton Hall University and Craig Depken of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte found in a 2014 article in Applied Economics that sons of former drivers were more highly valued by sponsors than other drivers were. "Being the son of a former driver increases a driver's season-long VTOC by $30.9 million," they wrote — corroboration that "name-brand capital seems to transfer within a family."

One way that the son of a famous driver may reap a return on his brand-name capital is that the early edge in name recognition could be critical to entering the sport in the first place. Entrance into a NASCAR event is determined in large part by whether a team owner will put the driver in a car — which, in turn, is determined in part by the sponsorship income the driver can bring the team. (Groothuis and his co-authors were not able to measure that effect separately, but he says it's "consistent with our results.")

In Groothuis' view, the premium received by footstep-following race drivers comes from transfers of both brand-name capital and human capital. "We try to tease them out, but we believe they're both taking place to some extent at the same time," he says. "You grow up in the house, you know the racing, you know the community, you know the culture. It's all there."

Published: Mar 12, 2018 2:39pm