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The myth of the single solution: electricity reforms and the World Bank


  • Yi-chong, Xu


This article explores three questions: how and why the reform of the electricity industry was initiated; how the reform policies were translated into a standard template; and how the template was transferred to and implemented in development and transition economies. It argues that the template for reform sold by the World Bank did not work because of the original disconnection between the economic ideals and political reality, the over-emphasis on economic performance at the expense of physical and engineering attributes of the industry, and the neglect of the differences between development and developing and transition economies. It examines the electricity reform in China, India and Russia to show: (1) the template was built more on fallacies than realities; and (2) any effort to impose the same reform model on countries with different political and economic systems and at different development stages is doomed to fail.

Suggested Citation

  • Yi-chong, Xu, 2006. "The myth of the single solution: electricity reforms and the World Bank," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 802-814.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:energy:v:31:y:2006:i:6:p:802-814
    DOI: 10.1016/

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Kelly, John M., 2003. "The Missing Manifesto: What Economists Should Be Saying about Electric Utility Restructuring in the United States," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 13-24.
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    Cited by:

    1. Erdogdu, Erkan, 2013. "Implications of liberalization policies on government support to R&D: Lessons from electricity markets," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 110-118.
    2. Lucy Baker, 2016. "Post-apartheid electricity policy and the emergence of South Africa's renewable energy sector," WIDER Working Paper Series 015, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Manditereza, Patrick Tendayi & Bansal, Ramesh, 2016. "Renewable distributed generation: The hidden challenges – A review from the protection perspective," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 1457-1465.
    4. Erkan Erdogdu, 2014. "The Political Economy of Electricity Market Liberalization: A Cross-country Approach," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3).
    5. Gratwick, Katharine Nawaal & Eberhard, Anton, 2008. "Demise of the standard model for power sector reform and the emergence of hybrid power markets," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 3948-3960, October.
    6. repec:pid:journl:v:55:y:2016:i:4:p:349-360 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Mathias, Melissa Cristina & Szklo, Alexandre, 2007. "Lessons learned from Brazilian natural gas industry reform," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(12), pages 6478-6490, December.
    8. Erdogdu, Erkan, 2011. "The impact of power market reforms on electricity price-cost margins and cross-subsidy levels: A cross country panel data analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 1080-1092, March.
    9. Gualberti, Giorgio & Alves, Luis & Micangeli, Andrea & da Graça Carvalho, Maria, 2009. "Electricity privatizations in Sahel: A U-turn?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(11), pages 4189-4207, November.
    10. Erdogdu, Erkan, 2013. "Essays on Electricity Market Reforms: A Cross-Country Applied Approach," MPRA Paper 47139, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Michaël Aklin & Patrick Bayer & S. Harish & Johannes Urpelainen, 2014. "Information and energy policy preferences: a survey experiment on public opinion about electricity pricing reform in rural India," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 305-327, November.

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