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The Conversation: Sumner La Croix on the Future of Tourism

Sumner La Croix appears on The Conversation to discuss the future of Hawaii's tourism industry.

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Governing Green Power: How Should Utilities of the Future Make Money?

This report summarizes a two-day conference that addressed how future electric utilities will make money, a question provoked by advances in renewable energy and other distributed resources that cast doubt on conventional regulatory and business models. Engagement with issues in all of the sessions was strong, giving expression to a wide range of observations, opinions and questions.

UHERO Report

 


Well-Being Assessment in Hawaii Creating community-level composite indices in paradise

The purpose of this report is to provide the necessary foundation for the construction of a comparative well-being index for communities in Hawaii. We begin by comparing the composite index and dashboard approaches to describing well-being. We provide guidance on the selection of indicators, their normalization, the weighting of indicators to form a composite index, and the comparison of indices and indicator values across regions. Existing indices are compared to provide context. Available data sources are listed and opportunities to augment current data collection are identified. Specific recommendations are provided regarding the well-being model, data sources, indicator selection, interactive visualization, and communication.

Working Paper


The Conversation: Sumner La Croix on Managing Hawaii’s Tourism

Posted June 8, 2018 | Categories: Media, LaCroix, Sumner

Sumner La Croix appears on The Conversation to discuss the possibility of over tourism in Hawaii.

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Not All Regions Are Alike: Evaluating the Effect of Oil Price Shocks on Local and Aggregate Economies

Using a sample of 48 contiguous U.S. states for the period 1973-2013, we study how oil price shocks influence state-level economic growth. The analysis incorporates (1) a structural decomposition of the supply and demand factors that drive the real price of crude oil; (2) heterogeneity of states in terms of their production and consumption of oil and natural gas; and (3) economic spillovers across neighboring states. Oil price effects vary across states, depending on the underlying source of the price shock and a state's average production of oil relative to its average consumption. Oil-exporting states are more vulnerable to unanticipated changes in oil prices, and the direct effect of oil price shocks can magnify or temper effects on neighboring states. Aggregated predictions from the state-level model also differ modestly from stand-alone aggregate model (Kilian, 2009). The aggregated state-level model implies that the recent (2005-2016) decline in U.S. dependence on foreign oil reduced aggregate sensitivity to exogenous supply shocks by more than a third.

Working Paper


UHERO County Forecast: Healthy county economies face growing pains

Hawaii’s four counties are enjoying robust economic conditions and look set for continued growth. Tourism keeps surprising to the upside, even as visitor numbers strain infrastructure and communities. Record low unemployment will limit job growth but bring welcome income gains. Kauai flooding and the Kilauea eruption remind us that the counties remain vulnerable to adverse developments, whether at home or beyond our shores.

This analysis and near-term forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed multi-year forecasts, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.

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Who are Driving Electric Vehicles? An analysis of factors that affect EV adoption in Hawaii

This study uses data on EV registrations by zipcode in Hawaii to analyze a variety of demographic and transportation factors that might affect EV adoption. After controlling for population and gasoline prices, zip codes with higher income and educational attainment are associated with higher levels of EV adoption. Longer commute times also influence EV adoption – which is somewhat surprising given the relatively limited travel distances of an island geography. This suggests that there may be strong risk-aversion associated with EV range anxiety as well as prompts further study of the effect of trip-chaining on EV purchase decisions.

Working Paper


Variable Pricing and the Cost of Renewable Energy

On a levelized-cost basis, solar and wind power generation are now competitive with fossil fuels, and still falling. But supply of these renewable resources is variable and intermittent, unlike traditional power plants. As a result, the cost of using flat retail pricing instead of dynamic, marginal-cost pricing--long advocated by economists--will grow. We evaluate the potential gains from dynamic pricing in high-renewable systems using a novel model of power supply and demand in Hawai'i. The model breaks new ground in integrating investment in generation and storage capacity with chronological operation of the system, including an account of reserves, a demand system with different interhour elasticities for different uses, and substitution between power and other goods and services. The model is open source and fully adaptable to other settings. Consistent with earlier studies, we find that dynamic pricing provides little social benefit in fossil-fuel-dominated power systems, only 2.6 to 4.6 percent of baseline annual expenditure. But dynamic pricing leads to a much greater social benefit of 8.5 to 23.4 percent in a 100 percent renewable power system with otherwise similar assumptions. High renewable systems, including 100 percent renewable, are remarkably affordable. The welfare maximizing (unconstrained) generation portfolio under the utility's projected 2045 technology and pessimistic interhour demand flexibility uses 79 percent renewable energy, without even accounting for pollution externalities. If overall demand for electricity is more elastic than our baseline (0.1), renewable energy is even cheaper and variable pricing can improve welfare by as much as 47 percent of baseline expenditure.

Working Paper


UHERO State Forecast Update: Ready or not, Hawaii is set for more growth

Now in its ninth year, Hawaii’s expansion shows no signs of letting up. Tourism has surged again in the first part of 2018, extending one of the longest periods of sustained visitor growth. Construction, while volatile month to month, also remains on a high plateau. The long run of strong demand has created very tight labor markets, and it has imposed burdens on infrastructure and some communities. These constraints will slow, but not stop, growth over the next few years.

This analysis and near-term forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed multi-year forecasts, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.

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Rethinking Hawaii Tourism: Time to Shift from Marketing to Managing Tourism?

We know from Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) resident surveys that Hawaii residents perceive tourism is our economic lifeline, but it is also a cause of significant number of problems in our lives. Even though most respondents still think tourism brings more benefits than costs to our state, the percent of those who think otherwise has been rising for some time. That perception is supported by Paul Brewbaker’s presentation today. Paul’s main point (backed by striking charts) is that tourism’s economic benefits have not risen while its negative social costs to residents have been rising steadily. I made the same observation in my UHERO Brief, “Sustainable Tourism Development and Overtourism,” November 15, 2017. As tourism continues to set “records”, according to HTA, the negative social costs of tourism will become more burdensome relative to tourism’s benefits.

This brief was prepared for the Hawaii Economic Association panel, Rethinking Hawaii Tourism: 21st Century Solutions for 21st Century Challenges, with Frank Haas, Paul Brewbaker and John Knox.

Revised: Posted May 16, 2018

UHERO Brief

 


Making Sense of Mandatory Resort Fees

More than 1,000 hotels in the U.S. require guests to pay a mandatory resort fee, stated as a fixed dollar amount per room per night of occupancy, in addition to the base room rate. According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), approximately 7% of U.S. hotels charge resort fees. Resort fees cover such services as parking, phone calls, in-room Wifi, daily bottled water, coffee maker, health club access, and so on. Included services vary from hotel to hotel. Hotels still include some services such as housekeeping, basic toiletries and television in their base room rate. By making the resort fee mandatory, a resort-fee hotel is bundling some services with the room but is disclosing a separate fee. The average resort fee in the U.S. is around $21. Resort fees generate about $2.7 billion in annual revenues to domestic hotels. The number of resort fee hotels and resort fee revenues in the U.S. are increasing rapidly.

UHERO Brief

 


Time to End the Preferential Taxation of Timeshare Occupancy?

Timeshares comprise a significant percentage of visitor accommodations in Hawaii. There are currently over 11,000 timeshare units in the state, and unlike traditional hotel accommodations, their number keeps growing. Timeshare visitors represented almost 10% of all visitor arrivals in Hawaii during the third quarter of 2017. In Hawaii timeshare owners are required to pay an occupancy tax to the State. State lawmakers want to increase the amount timeshare owners pay.

UHERO Brief

 


UHERO State Forecast Update: Not much lift from tax cuts in Hawaii’s soaring economy

Hawaii’s economy continues to grow, but with expected slowing as the cycle matures. Tourism is booming, construction remains on a healthy plateau, and jobs are plentiful. The big story this quarter is the federal tax cuts that went into effect on January 1. These will provide a modest boost for Hawaii families, who have seen little income growth in the expansion so far. Tightness in tourism and labor markets will limit the overall effect on the State’s economy.

This analysis and near-term forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed multi-year forecasts, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.

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Determinants of Residential Solar Photovoltaic Adoption

Hawaii is a leader in distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) adoption. It has the highest rate of PV-based electricity penetration in the U.S. and rivals global front runners. The policy impetus towards large-scale adoption of renewable energy comes from the Renewable Portfolio Standard, with a target of 40% net electricity sales from renewable sources by the year 2030 and 100% by 2045. Rooftop PV provides the largest share of renewable energy in Hawaii’s electricity generation portfolio. This study analyzes demographic factors related to residential PV system adoption in Hawaii. It provides an econometric analysis, augmented by maps, to better understand the demographic characteristics of households adopting PV systems. Understanding drivers of past uptake is important to gaining insight into future trends, particularly as Hawaii continues towards its 2045 RPS goal.

Working Paper


The Conversation: Aida Arik on Home Solar Batteries

Posted January 22, 2018 | Categories: Media, Arik, Aida

UHERO graduate student Aida Arik joins The Conversation to discuss potential household savings related to timing of investment in a solar PV plus battery system on Oahu

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