hero image
Lucas W. Davis - Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley, CA, US

Lucas W. Davis Lucas W. Davis

Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor | Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA, UNITED STATES

Leading expert on energy economics

Social

Areas of Expertise (3)

Energy and Environmental Economics

Applied Microeconomics

Public Finance

About

Lucas Davis is the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor at Berkeley Haas. His research focuses on energy and environmental markets, and, in particular, on electricity and natural gas regulation, pricing in competitive and non-competitive markets, and the economic and business impacts of environmental policy. He serves as co-editor of the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy and is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Prior to moving to UC Berkeley in 2009, he was an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan.

Education (2)

University of Wisconsin: PhD, Economics

Amherst College: BA

Selected External Service & Affiliations (2)

  • Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research
  • Co-Editor, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy

Positions Held (1)

At Haas since 2009

2016 – present, Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor, Haas School of Business 2009 - present, Faculty Affiliate, Energy Institute at Haas 2012 – 2016, Associate Professor, Haas School of Business 2009 – 2012, Assistant Professor, Haas School of Business 2008 – 2009, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, MIT 2005 – 2009, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Michigan

Media Appearances (20)

Biden tosses $6B lifeline to save struggling nuclear plants

E&E News Energy Wire  online

2022-04-20

The Energy Department yesterday launched a program to provide up to $6 billion in grants to operators of financially hard-hit U.S. nuclear plants to help them keep operating. Research by Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor, in 2015 on the impact of closing the San Onofre nuclear power plant found that replacing its electricity with gas-fueled generation caused a 9 million-ton increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the first year following its shutdown. That's equivalent to the tailpipe emissions of an additional 2 million cars.

view more

California average gas price surpasses $5, highest in US

The Daily Californian  online

2022-03-11

Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor, said the spike in gas prices is caused by an increase in crude oil prices, directly related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Also, “California has the highest gas prices in the country because of its environmentally-friendly gasoline, which makes it more expensive, and high state taxes,” Davis said.

view more

Russian invasion disrupts oil market, to possibly increase gas prices

The Daily Californian  online

2022-02-27

The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine may lead to higher prices at the pump while the pandemic had already reduced supply. “You already had high oil prices in this very tight oil market,” said Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor. “Add to that Russia invading Ukraine, with disruptions in Russian oil production, and that has already pushed global oil prices higher to near $100 a barrel.”

view more

Shock waves

Politico  online

2022-02-25

The big problem in the United States is that driving is too cheap, said Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor. "We have a tiny gasoline tax that is too small to reflect the negative externalities from driving."

view more

Texas just dodged a repeat of 2021 outages, but its power sector has a long way to go, analysts say

Utility Dive  online

2022-02-25

Building resilience to extreme weather remains a work in progress in Texas, which was hit by a record freeze last year that disrupted the state’s natural gas and electricity systems for days. One option is connecting Texas with adjacent Eastern and Western electricity transmission systems, said Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor. That would make "a whole lot of Texas’ energy problems go away, making electricity more reliable, cheaper, and greener," Davis said.

view more

Local PG&E Customers Are Seeing Rising Bills — But Why Now?

CBS News Sacramento  online

2022-02-09

Many Pacific Gas and Electric customers are seeing their bill listed as double or triple what they normally pay, in part due to rising natural gas prices. Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor, blamed high demand and soft supply. U.S. production of natural gas is just coming back online after being hit hard in 2020. In addition, the U.S. exports about 10% of its liquefied natural gas, which pushes the price up in North America. “Natural gas prices are pretty high right now and I think until we see that change, it’s going to be reflected in higher natural gas bills,” he said.

view more

Green incentives usually help the rich. Here’s how the Build Back Better Act could change that.

Grist  online

2021-12-02

The $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act includes thousands of dollars in incentives and tax credits for electric cars, solar panels, heat pumps, e-bikes, and even electric motorcycles. But many low-income households don’t make enough money to take advantage of the tax credits, or live in rented homes that can’t be easily upgraded. “Clean energy tax credits overwhelmingly go to high-income households,” said Prof. Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor. Research by Davis and Prof. Severin Borenstein found the current batch of clean energy tax credits that started in 2006 mostly went to the richest 20% of Americans.

view more

UC Berkeley researchers find ride-share apps reduce US traffic fatalities

The Daily Californian  online

2021-08-31

Ride-share apps significantly reduce U.S. alcohol-related traffic fatalities, according to new research by Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor. “Previous studies of the effect of ride-sharing on traffic fatalities … have yielded inconsistent, often contradictory conclusions,” Davis said. Davis said this study used proprietary data from Uber measuring monthly rideshare activity to conclude its findings.

view more

Demand for air conditioning is set to surge by 2050

The Economist  online

2021-08-10

There’s new research on air conditioning out from Paul Gertler, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics and faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact; Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor; and Cora Jane Flood Professor of Business Administration Catherine Wolfram (on leave). They find that wider use of AC will save lives, but will disproportionately benefit those with higher incomes. Poorer people without AC are more likely to get ill or be less productive, and heat hinders learning. But the use of AC itself contributes to global warming, making life even hotter for everyone.

view more

Poor Americans Said Likely to Bear Brunt of Transition from Natural Gas to Renewables

Natural Gas Intelligence  online

2021-08-10

Research co-authored by Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor, found a “thorny issue” in minimizing emissions that cause climate change. As utilities shed natural gas customers, the research says, they would still have to maintain legacy pipeline networks for years and pass along maintenance costs to a smaller pool of customers. The higher bills are likely to affect low-income households disproportionately.

view more

Low-Income Households To Bear The Brunt Of All-Electric Homes

Oilprice.com  online

2021-08-05

The push to switch away from natural gas to electricity in homes is aimed at reducing emissions from buildings and residential energy consumption. Yet, the push has the potential to hit low-income American households in the wallet. According to research co-authored by Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor, the switch to electricity would increase bills for lower-income households and could “often exacerbate existing societal inequalities.”

view more

How Uber and Lyft Can Save Lives

The Wall Street Journal  online

2021-08-05

A new study by Lucas Davis, Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor, found that Uber has decreased U.S. alcohol-related traffic fatalities by 6.1%, and reduced total US traffic fatalities by 4%. Using ride data provided by Uber, Davis and co-author Michael Anderson, UC Berkeley professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, were able to conduct a more detailed analysis of Uber's impact than publicly available data has allowed. The op-ed writers conclude: "If this study is right, ride-sharing services have helped make the roads safer, and hundreds of people are alive today because they exist."

view more

A Fee for Miles Driven Would Be Hard to Impose

Bloomberg  online

2021-06-22

Taxing drivers based on the number of miles traveled has been proposed as a tool to fight climate change. Yet implementing such a tax is more complicated than it might sound, the article argues. A 2020 analysis co-authored by Lucas Davis, Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor, found there are tradeoffs between a gas tax and a VMT (vehicle miles traveled) tax. One question involves the effect a VMT tax might have on the adoption of electric vehicles.

view more

Elon Musk is wrong, Bitcoin won't help us save the planet

The Telegraph  online

2021-04-28

New research suggests that the massive amount of energy needed to mine bitcoin has incentivized the development of green energy sources. Not so fast, said Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor. “California, Europe, and the world have been recording a substantial increase in renewable energy generation, but this is not from Bitcoin,” he said.

view more

How Climate Change will affect businesses in the U.S.

CGTN  online

2021-04-17

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says the private sector needs to price the risk of climate change into investments, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission as well as the SEC are pushing to make more climate-related information available. "I think this makes a lot of sense," said Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor. “This can help investors make better decisions when they think about where to put their money.”

view more

Appliance electrification a growing divide between renters and homeowners

Axios  online

2021-04-16

U.S. renters are more likely than homeowners to have electric heat and appliances, according to research by Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor. But expanding electrification, paired with an increasingly low-carbon power grid, can be a tool against global warming. Understanding this gap "has important implications for an emerging set of policies aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions through electrification," Davis said.

view more

A Furious Industry Backlash Greets Moves by California Cities to Ban Natural Gas in New Construction

Inside Climate News  online

2021-03-05

Some groups want to make gas "the new coal," and hasten its demise, while the industry wants to reassure investors and convince the public that the bans are a product of fringe politics that will never reach the mainstream. "You’re seeing more cities, in states where this is possible, banning natural gas, and you’re seeing more states take preemptive measures,” said Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor. “It’s becoming more front-of-mind for policymakers all over.”

view more

If Heating Goes Electric, We're Going to Need a Better Grid

Bloomberg  online

2021-03-03

In Texas, which suffered power shutoffs during a recent storm, 61% of occupied housing units relied on electricity for heat. According to Prof. Lucas Davis, dynamic pricing of electricity may be the answer to preventing future outages. The overwhelming majority of Texas customers share electricity prices that are too static, too inflexible, and don’t respond to market conditions.

view more

The steady rise of electricity for home heating

Axios  online

2021-01-05

Research by Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor, found that the percentage of homes that use electricity for heating grew from 1% in 1950 to almost 40% by 2018. The increase has been largely price-driven, not policy-driven, and there are large numbers of additional households for whom adopting electric heating would impose relatively modest costs, he wrote.

view more

Tesla Joins S&P 500 as Electric Car Stocks Surge

Newsweek  online

2020-11-24

The article quotes research by Prof. Lucas Davis, who found that 90% of the tax credits to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles accrue to those with incomes in the top 20%. The study also found that electric vehicles are driven significantly less than gasoline and diesel-powered cars. "The difference is highly statistically significant. Overall, the evidence suggests that today's electric vehicles imply smaller environmental benefits than previously believed."

view more

Selected Papers & Publications (10)

An Empirical Test of Hypercongestion in Highway Bottlenecks

Journal of Public Economics

Michael Anderson and Lucas Davis

forthcoming

view more

How Effective is Energy-Efficient Housing? Evidence from a Field Trial in Mexico

Journal of Development Economics

Lucas Davis, Sebastian Martinez, and Bibiana Taboada

forthcoming

view more

Do Energy Efficiency Investments Deliver at the Right Time?

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics

Judson Boomhower and Lucas Davis

2020

view more

Are Fuel Economy Standards Regressive?

Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists

Lucas Davis and Chris Knittel

2019

view more

Anticipation, Tax Avoidance, and the Price Elasticity of Demand for Gasoline

Journal of Applied Econometrics

John Coglianese, Lucas Davis, Lutz Kilian, and James Stock

2017

view more

Does Better Information Lead to Better Choices? Evidence from Energy-Efficiency Labels

Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists

Lucas W. Davis and Gilbert E. Metcalf

2016

view more

The Distributional Effects of U.S. Clean Energy Tax Credits

NBER Tax Policy and the Economy

Severin Borenstein and Lucas W. Davis

2016

view more

Market Impacts of a Nuclear Power Plant Closure

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics

Lucas Davis and Catherine Hausman

2016

view more

Contribution of Air Conditioning Adoption to Future Energy Use under Global Warming

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Lucas W. Davis and Paul J. Gertler

2015

view more

Environmental Health Risks and Housing Values: Evidence from 1,600 Toxic Plant Openings and Closings

American Economic Review

Janet Currie, Lucas Davis, Michael Greenstone, and Reed Walker

2015

view more

Teaching (2)

Energy and Environmental Markets

Full-time MBA Program

Energy and Environmental Markets

Evening & Weekend MBA Program