Policy is a key driving factor when it comes to instilling permanent change in any society. The purpose of my project was to figure out the significance of risk and time preferences in determining solar adoption decisions. The results from the experiment would be utilized to advise on effective policy that could be implemented to increase the number of solar adopters in Massachusetts and could have implications for policy implementation on a federal level. Given the climate situation, incentivizing residential solar adoption through the right programs and policy is more important than ever.
The experiment itself consisted of utilizing different software programs to run the experiment synchronously and online. Programs such as AWS Cloud Computing Services, Z-Tree unleashed and Zoom would be utilized to carry out a remote experiment. The experiment was designed in such a way that all data from participants would be kept in a closed loop. During the experiment, participants would be given 40 questions that would test for time preferences and another 40 for risk. They would also be incentivized to answer rationally as they would be paid in cash for how well they performed. The experiment placed a large emphasis on adhering to the techniques outlined in “Experimental methods a primer for economists” to ensure the results would be of the highest quality.
The main focus of my work with professor Rong was in regards to data collection/management via excel, pilot testing the experiment, and suggesting necessary changes to improve the results that would be produced by a well designed experiment. For data collection/management, I had to sort through the entire set of household addresses available for public download from MassGIS to determine which were residential and then proceed to geocode them with the help of the Census Bureau. The refined dataset would be used to merge with a residential solar adopters list to determine the randomized mailing list for test participants. For the pilot experiment, it was primarily done to eliminate failures that could occur during the experiment and see if there were any adjustments that had to be made. The experiment itself was critically analyzed utilizing the “Experimental methods a primer for economists” as a way to compare our experiment to what is considered the Gold Standard of experimental methodology.
The experiment is still ongoing but a lot of progress was made in regards to improving, assessing and executing the experiment.