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Allocative inefficiencies resulting from subsidies to agricultural electricity use : an illustrative model

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  • Strand, Jon

Abstract

This paper provides an analytical discussion of several interconnected resource allocation problems from under-pricing of electricity used by farmers for groundwater extraction. In these situations, groundwater extraction is inefficiently high even without electricity under-pricing. Moreover, part of the electric power supply intended for farmers is often diverted to other unauthorized uses (notably illicit consumption). The paper demonstrates that unless non-price electricity rationing imposes severe constraints on demand, the range of resource allocation problems includes insufficient incentives to provide high-level service by the power utility, insufficient incentives for farmers to install and operate efficient equipment, and losses due to political"rent seeking"activities to influence water allocations. It also shows that diversion of electricity to illicit uses can increase overall economic efficiency when this leads to less electricity use by farmers, thus somewhat ameliorating the problem of excessive groundwater extraction as well as the inefficiencies related to under-pricing of electricity. Systemic reforms for overcoming these problems may face severe political obstacles.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5955.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5955

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Keywords: Energy Production and Transportation; Water and Industry; Economic Theory&Research; Wastewater Treatment; Electric Power;

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  1. repec:snd:wpaper:46 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Pranab Bardhan & Dilip Mookherjee, 2006. "Decentralisation and Accountability in Infrastructure Delivery in Developing Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(508), pages 101-127, 01.
  3. Shah, T. & Molden, D. & Sakthivadivel, R. & Seckler, D., 2000. "The global groundwater situation: Overview of opportunities and challenges," IWMI Books, Reports H025885, International Water Management Institute.
  4. Banerji A & Meenakshi J V & Gauri Khanna, 2007. "Groundwater Irrigation in North India: Institutions and Markets," Working Papers id:899, eSocialSciences.
  5. Shah, Tushaar & Molden, David J. & Sakthivadivel, Ramasamy & Seckler, David, 2000. "The global groundwater situation: overview of opportunities and challenges," IWMI Books, International Water Management Institute, number 113506.
  6. Strand, Jon, 2011. "Low-level versus high-level equilibrium in public utility service," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5723, The World Bank.
  7. Birner, Regina & Gupta, Surupa & Sharma, Neeru, 2011. "The political economy of agricultural policy reform in India: Fertilizers and electricity for irrigation," Research reports reginabirner, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  8. Strand, Jon, 2010. "The full economic cost of groundwater extraction," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5494, The World Bank.
  9. Reddy, V. Ratna, 2005. "Costs of resource depletion externalities: a study of groundwater overexploitation in Andhra Pradesh, India," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(04), pages 533-556, August.
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