Abstract

Overloaded electrical systems are a major source of unreliable power. Using a randomized saturation design, we estimate the impact of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) on electricity reliability and household electricity consumption in the Kyrgyz Republic. Greater saturation of CFLs within a transformer leads to fewer outages, a technological externality benefiting all households, regardless of individual adoption. Spillovers in CFL adoption further reduce electricity consumption, contributing to increased reliability within a transformer. CFLs' impacts on household electricity consumption vary according to the effects on reliability. Receiving CFLs significantly reduces electricity consumption, but increased reliability permits greater consumption of electricity services.

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Author notes

We thank Arstan Omuraliev and Ruslan Isaev for invaluable input. We are grateful to Sendhil Mullainathan, Rohini Pande, Rema Hanna, Claudia Goldin, Kelsey Jack, Sebastian Bauhoff, Jeremiah Johnson, Hunt Allcott, Raymond Guiteras, Shaun McRae, Mushfiq Mobarak, Molly Lipscomb, Ach Adhvaryu, Michael Moore, Catie Hausman, Judd Boomhower, Meredith Fowlie, and many seminar participants for helpful comments. Cholpon Chargynova, Saikal Nogoibaeva, Merim Japarova, Wincy Poon, Ryoko Sato, and Daniel Velez-Lopez provided excellent research assistance. We thank the Harvard Sustainability Science Program, Harvard Graduate Student Grant, University of Michigan, Weiser Center, and the National Science Foundation (award 1061989) for funding. AEA RCT Registry AEARCTR-0000461. All errors are our own.

A supplemental appendix is available online at https://doi.org/10.1162/rest_a_00912.

Supplementary data