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Reference models and incentive regulation of electricity distribution networks: An evaluation of Sweden's Network Performance Assessment Model (NPAM)

  • Jamasb, Tooraj
  • Pollitt, Michael

Electricity sector reforms across the world have led to a search for innovative approaches to regulation that promote efficiency in the natural monopoly distribution networks and reduce their service charges. To this aim, a number of countries have adopted incentive regulation models based on efficiency benchmarking. While most regulators have used parametric and non-parametric frontier-based methods of benchmarking some have adopted engineering-designed "reference firm" or "norm" models. This paper examines the incentive properties and related aspects of the reference firm model--NPAM--as used in Sweden and compares this with frontier-based benchmarking methods. We identify a number of important differences between the two approaches that are not readily apparent and discuss their ramifications for the regulatory objectives and process. We conclude that, on balance, the reference models are less appropriate as benchmarks than real firms. Also, the implementation framework based on annual ex-post reviews exacerbates the regulatory problems mainly by increasing uncertainty and reducing the incentive for innovation.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

Volume (Year): 36 (2008)
Issue (Month): 5 (May)
Pages: 1788-1801

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Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:36:y:2008:i:5:p:1788-1801
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

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  1. Filippini, Massimo & Wild, Jorg, 2001. "Regional differences in electricity distribution costs and their consequences for yardstick regulation of access prices," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 477-488, July.
  2. Giannakis, D. & T. Jamasb & Pollitt, M.G., 2004. "Benchmarking and incentive regulation of quality of service: an application to the UK electricity distribution utilities," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0408, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  3. Jamasb, T. & Pollitt, M., 2004. "Electricity Market Reform in the European Union: Review of progress towards liberalisation and integration," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0471, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  4. Bauer, Paul W. & Berger, Allen N. & Ferrier, Gary D. & Humphrey, David B., 1998. "Consistency Conditions for Regulatory Analysis of Financial Institutions: A Comparison of Frontier Efficiency Methods," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 85-114, March.
  5. Giannakis, Dimitrios & Jamasb, Tooraj & Pollitt, Michael, 2005. "Benchmarking and incentive regulation of quality of service: an application to the UK electricity distribution networks," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(17), pages 2256-2271, November.
  6. Jamasb, Tooraj & Nillesen, Paul & Pollitt, Michael, 2003. "Gaming the Regulator: A Survey," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 16(10), pages 68-80, December.
  7. Jamasb, T. & Neuhoff, K. & Newbery, D. & Pollitt, M., 2005. "Long-term Framework for Electricity Distribution Access Charges," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0551, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  8. Jamasb, T. & Pollitt, M., 2001. "Benchmarking and Regulation of Electricity Transmission and Distribution Utilities: Lessons from International Experience," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0101, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  9. Dag Morten Dalen, 1998. "Yardstick Competition and Investment Incentives," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(1), pages 105-126, 03.
  10. Jamasb, T. & Pollitt, M., 2000. "Benchmarking and regulation: international electricity experience," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 107-130, September.
  11. Turvey, Ralph, 2006. "On network efficiency comparisons: Electricity distribution," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 103-113, June.
  12. David Sappington, 2005. "Regulating Service Quality: A Survey," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 123-154, November.
  13. Weisman, Dennis L. & Pfeifenberger, Johannes P., 2003. "Efficiency as a Discovery Process: Why Enhanced Incentives Outperform Regulatory Mandates," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 55-62.
  14. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521860499 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Pollitt, Michael, 2005. "The role of efficiency estimates in regulatory price reviews: Ofgem's approach to benchmarking electricity networks," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 279-288, December.
  16. Jamasb, Tooraj & Nillesen, Paul & Pollitt, Michael, 2004. "Strategic behaviour under regulatory benchmarking," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 825-843, September.
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