Research Papers: Dan Wei

Benefit-Cost Analysis of Low-Cost Floor Inundation Sensors

By Adam Rose, Dan Wei, Juan Machado, Kyle Spencer

American Society of Civil Engineers


The demand for inexpensive and reliable warning systems has increased in recent years as a result of the increase in the number and severity of flood disasters. A new generation of low-cost sensors for flood monitoring and warning is being developed by the federal government and private sectors, in some cases collaboratively. We perform a benefit-cost analysis of this new product category, (i.e., low-cost flood inundation sensors), which can readily be deployed in a wireless or internet of things network. The use of these sensors can improve the coverage and lengthen the lead time of flood warning systems. The production costs of this new technology are only a fraction of those of
existing sensors with similar capability and reliability, and operating costs are modest. Benefits depend on such factors as the ability to improve lead times of warnings to reduce property damage, deaths, and injuries from floods as well as the extent of adoption of the new sensors. Our analysis indicates a benefit–cost ratio of 1.4 to 1. However, our results are based on several assumptions. Hence, we
have undertaken extensive sensitivity analyses to determine that our results are robust.

Impacts of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program on the Economy of California

By Adam Rose, Dan Wei

Energy Policy


The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program is an innovative financing approach to meeting environmental goals. PACE financing is structured as an assessment to the property and paid along with the property tax bill. In addition to the direct environmental benefits, it also yields co-benefits of enhanced economic output and employment. This paper estimates the economic impacts of PACE in California by one of its major financing companies. These impacts include direct spending on structural improvements, reduction in spending on centralized power and water services, reallocation of spending from energy and water bills savings, and solar investment tax credits, among others. It also includes general equilibrium effects of these various factors. Our results indicate PACE financing yields sizable economic benefits. At the same time, the increased economic activity results in increased energy and water use that partially offsets some of the direct environmental gains. Furthermore, PACE has been subject to criticism because it gives financing companies the first lien on mortgages and because of anecdotal examples of some customers being lured by unscrupulous contractors. The direct environmental benefits and economic co-benefits of PACE should be factored into the policy debate over whether the Program should be further expanded or regulated.

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