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Capital Investment Strategies under Uncertain Regulation


  • Elizabeth Olmstead Teisberg


This article presents a positive model of investment choices by regulated firms that offers rational explanations for electric utilities' recent behavior of delaying investment and choosing smaller, shorter-lead-time technologies. The model assumes that firms' capital investments require long lead times, during which the value of the completed project is uncertain. Firms anticipate regulatory profit and loss restrictions, but expectations about the value of a completed project change over time. Firms' decisions are modelled using an option pricing approach that incorporates the value of flexibility to delay or abandon projects. The article shows why rational firms invest in smaller, shorter-lead-time plants, or delay investment when faced with uncertain and asymmetric profit and loss restrictions. It also looks at decisions to abandon partially completed plants, and shows that the static result that a higher cost allowance on abandoned projects increases the incentive for investment is not generally true in a dynamic model.

Suggested Citation

  • Elizabeth Olmstead Teisberg, 1993. "Capital Investment Strategies under Uncertain Regulation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(4), pages 591-604, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:24:y:1993:i:winter:p:591-604

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Blum, Ulrich & Growitsch, Christian & Krap, Niels, 2006. "Network Investment and the Threat of Regulation – Preventing Monopoly Exploitation or Infrastructure Construction?," IWH Discussion Papers 7/2006, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    2. Roger Buckland & Julian Williams & Janice Beecher, 2015. "Risk and regulation in water utilities: a cross-country comparison of evidence from the CAPM," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 117-145, April.
    3. Xian, Hui & Colson, Gregory & Mei, Bin & Wetzstein, Michael E., 2015. "Co-firing coal with wood pellets for U.S. electricity generation: A real options analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 106-116.
    4. Sumit Agarwal & David Lucca & Amit Seru & Francesco Trebbi, 2014. "Inconsistent Regulators: Evidence from Banking," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 889-938.
    5. repec:pal:jorsoc:v:60:y:2009:i:6:d:10.1057_palgrave.jors.2602627 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Vi Dung Ngo & Frank Janssen & Marine Falize, 2016. "An incentive-based model of international entrepreneurship in emerging and transition economies," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 52-74, March.
    7. Moretto, Michele & Panteghini, Paolo M. & Scarpa, Carlo, 2008. "Profit sharing and investment by regulated utilities: A welfare analysis," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 315-337, December.
    8. Lander, Diane M. & Pinches, George E., 1998. "Challenges to the Practical Implementation of Modeling and Valuing Real Options," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(3, Part 2), pages 537-567.
    9. Marc Gürtler & Gernot Sieg, 2010. "Crunch Time: A Policy to Avoid the 'Announcement Effect' when Terminating a Subsidy," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11, pages 25-36, February.
    10. Mario Pietrunti, 2010. "Regulation and Investment Incentives for Next Generation Broadband Access Networks," Chapters,in: Promoting New Telecom Infrastructures, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Ngo, Vi Dung & Janssen, Frank & Leonidou, Leonidas C. & Christodoulides, Paul, 2016. "Domestic institutional attributes as drivers of export performance in an emerging and transition economy," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 2911-2922.
    12. Bar-Ilan, Avner & Strange, William C., 1998. "A model of sequential investment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 437-463, March.
    13. Guthrie, Graeme, 2006. "Regulating Infrastructure: The Impact on Risk and Investment," Working Paper Series 3851, Victoria University of Wellington, The New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation.
    14. Martzoukos, Spiros H. & Trigeorgis, Lenos, 2002. "Real (investment) options with multiple sources of rare events," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 136(3), pages 696-706, February.
    15. Pereira, Paulo J. & Rodrigues, Artur, 2014. "Investment decisions in finite-lived monopolies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 219-236.
    16. Stratford Douglas & Thomas A. Garrett & Russell M. Rhine, 2009. "Disallowances and overcapitalization in the U.S. electric utility industry," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 23-32.
    17. Tahvanainen, Kaisa & Honkapuro, Samuli & Partanen, Jarmo & Viljainen, Satu, 2012. "Experiences of modern rate of return regulation in Finland," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 32-39.
    18. Graeme Guthrie, 2006. "Regulating Infrastructure: The Impact on Risk and Investment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(4), pages 925-972, December.
    19. Ekboir, Javier Mario, 1997. "Technical change and irreversible investment under risk," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 16(1), March.
    20. repec:cam:camdae:1324 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Mario Ekboir, Javier, 1997. "Technical change and irreversible investment under risk," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 16(1), pages 55-65, March.
    22. Lim, Terence & Lo, Andrew W. & Merton, Robert C. & Scholes, Myron S., 2006. "The Derivatives Sourcebook," Foundations and Trends(R) in Finance, now publishers, vol. 1(5–6), pages 365-572, April.
    23. Franklin, Sergio Luis & Diallo, Madiagne, 2013. "Real options and cost-based access pricing: Model and methodology," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 321-333.

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