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Regulatory risk, market uncertainties, and firm financing choices: Evidence from U.S. Electricity Market Restructuring

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  • Sanyal, Paroma
  • Bulan, Laarni T.

Abstract

Based on the universe of rate-regulated electric utilities in the U.S., we examine why firms alter their financing decisions when transitioning from a regulated to a competitive market regime. We find that the significant increase in regulatory risk after the passage of the Energy Policy Act, state-level restructuring legislations, and divestiture policies have reduced leverage by 15 percent. Policies that encouraged competition, and hence increased market uncertainty, lowered leverage by another 13 percent on average. The ability to exercise market power allowed some firms to counter this competitive threat. In aggregate, regulatory risk and market uncertainty variables reduce leverage between 24.6 and 26.7 percent. We also confirm findings in the literature that firms with higher profitability and higher asset growth have lower leverage, and those with more tangible assets are more levered. Firms with greater access to internal capital markets and those with a footloose customer segment use less debt, while those actively involved in trading power in the wholesale market use more debt.

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  • Sanyal, Paroma & Bulan, Laarni T., 2011. "Regulatory risk, market uncertainties, and firm financing choices: Evidence from U.S. Electricity Market Restructuring," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 248-268, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:quaeco:v:51:y:2011:i:3:p:248-268
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Haney, Aoife Brophy & Pollitt, Michael G., 2013. "International benchmarking of electricity transmission by regulators: A contrast between theory and practice?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 267-281.

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