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Ownership Unbundling in Electricity Distribution: Empirical Evidence from New Zealand

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  • Paul Nillesen

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  • Michael Pollitt

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Abstract

New Zealand is the only country to date to have implemented forced ownership unbundling of electricity distribution from the rest of the electricity supply industry (in 1998). This paper examines the impact of this policy on electricity prices, quality of service and costs. We find that ownership unbundling did not achieve its objectives of facilitating greater competition in the electricity supply industry but that it did lead to lower costs and higher quality of service. We suggest that this experience indicates the potential benefits of ownership unbundling in Europe but also the danger of un-intended consequences.
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Suggested Citation

  • Paul Nillesen & Michael Pollitt, 2011. "Ownership Unbundling in Electricity Distribution: Empirical Evidence from New Zealand," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 38(1), pages 61-93, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:revind:v:38:y:2011:i:1:p:61-93
    DOI: 10.1007/s11151-010-9273-5
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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Growitsch & Marcus Stronzik, 2014. "Ownership unbundling of natural gas transmission networks: empirical evidence," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 207-225, October.
    2. Marius Buchmann, 2016. "Information Management in Smart Grids - Who Should Govern Information Management to Balance Between Coordination and Competition on the Distribution Grid Level?," Bremen Energy Working Papers 0022, Bremen Energy Research.
    3. Roland Meyer, 2012. "Economies of scope in electricity supply and the costs of vertical separation for different unbundling scenarios," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 95-114, August.
    4. Ali Yurukoglu & Claire Lim, 2014. "Dynamic Natural Monopoly Regulation: Time Inconsistency, Asymmetric Information, and Political Environments," 2014 Meeting Papers 530, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Rabindra Nepal & John Foster & Antonio Carvalho, 2014. "Revisiting Electricity Liberalization and Security of Supply: Empirical Evidence," Energy Economics and Management Group Working Papers 7-2014, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    6. Szablewski, Andrzej T., 2011. "The need for revaluation of the model structure for electricity liberalization," MPRA Paper 34898, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Ruester, Sophia & Schwenen, Sebastian & Batlle, Carlos & Pérez-Arriaga, Ignacio, 2014. "From distribution networks to smart distribution systems: Rethinking the regulation of European electricity DSOs," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 229-237.
    8. Brunekreeft, Gert, 2015. "Network unbundling and flawed coordination: Experience from the electricity sector," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 11-18.
    9. Roland Meyer, 2012. "Vertical Economies and the Costs of Separating Electricity Supply--A Review of Theoretical and Empirical Literature," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4).
    10. 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.
    11. Kuleshov, Dmitry & Viljainen, Satu & Annala, Salla & Gore, Olga, 2012. "Russian electricity sector reform: Challenges to retail competition," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 40-49.
    12. de Nooij, Michiel & Baarsma, Barbara, 2009. "Divorce comes at a price: An ex ante welfare analysis of ownership unbundling of the distribution and commercial companies in the Dutch energy sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5449-5458, December.
    13. Anette Boom, 2012. "Vertikale Entflechtung in der Stromwirtschaft," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 81(1), pages 57-71.
    14. Daisy Shen & Qing Yang, . "Electricity Market Regulatory Reform and Competition – Case Study of the New Zealand Electricity Market," Chapters, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
    15. Richard Meade & Magnus Soderberg, 2017. "Welfare-Maximising Investors? – Utility Firm Performance with Heterogeneous Quality Preferences and Endogenous Ownership," Working Papers 2017-09 JEL Classificatio, Auckland University of Technology, Department of Economics.
    16. Pollitt, Michael, 2010. "Does electricity (and heat) network regulation have anything to learn from fixed line telecoms regulation?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 1360-1371, March.
    17. Filippini, Massimo & Wetzel, Heike, 2014. "The impact of ownership unbundling on cost efficiency: Empirical evidence from the New Zealand electricity distribution sector," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 412-418.
    18. Schober, Dominik, 2013. "Static vs. dynamic impacts of unbundling: Electricity markets in South America," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-033, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    19. Erdogdu, Erkan, 2013. "Essays on Electricity Market Reforms: A Cross-Country Applied Approach," MPRA Paper 47139, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Buchmann, Marius, 2017. "Governance of data and information management in smart distribution grids: Increase efficiency by balancing coordination and competition," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 63-72.
    21. Nikogosian, Vigen & Veith, Tobias, 2011. "Vertical integration, separation and non-price discrimination: An empirical analysis of German electricity markets for residential customers," ZEW Discussion Papers 11-069, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Electricity distribution; Ownership unbundling; New Zealand; Vertical disintegration; L94;

    JEL classification:

    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

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