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Does Competition Reduce Costs? Assessing the Impact of Regulatory Restructuring on U.S. Electric Generation Efficiency

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  • Nancy L. Rose
  • Kira Markiewicz
  • Catherine Wolfram

Abstract

Although the allocative efficiency benefits of competition are a tenet of microeconomic theory, the relation between competition and technical efficiency is less well understood. Neoclassical models of profit-maximization subsume static cost-minimizing behavior regardless of market competitiveness, but agency models of managerial behavior suggest possible scope for competition to influence cost-reducing effort choices. This paper explores the empirical effects of competition on technical efficiency in the context of electricity industry restructuring. Restructuring programs adopted by many U.S. states made utilities residual claimants to cost savings and increased their exposure to competitive markets. We estimate the impact of these changes on annual generating plant-level input demand for non-fuel operating expenses, the number of employees and fuel use. We find that municipally-owned plants, whose owners were for the most part unaffected by restructuring, experienced the smallest efficiency gains over the past decade. Investor-owned utility plants in states that restructured their wholesale electricity markets had the largest reductions in nonfuel operating expenses and employment, while investorowned plants in nonrestructuring states fell between these extremes. The analysis also highlights the substantive importance of treating the simultaneity of input and output decisions, which we do through an instrumental variables approach.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research in its series Working Papers with number 0418.

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Date of creation: Nov 2004
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Handle: RePEc:mee:wpaper:0418

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Cited by:
  1. FitzGerald, John & Keeney, Mary J. & McCarthy, Niamh & O'Malley, Eoin & Scott, Susan, 2005. "Aspects of Irish Energy Policy," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS57.
  2. Goto, Mika & Makhija, Anil K., 2007. "The Impact of Competition and Corporate Structure on Productive Efficiency: The Case of the U.S. Electric Utility Industry, 1990-2004," Working Paper Series 2007-10, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  3. Kwoka, J. & Pollitt, M., 2007. "Industry Restructuring, Mergers, And Efficiency: Evidence From Electric Power," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0725, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  4. Supawat Rungsuriyawiboon & Spiro Stefanou, 2008. "The dynamics of efficiency and productivity growth in U.S. electric utilities," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 177-190, December.

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