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Regulatory Opportunism and Investment Behavior: Evidence from the U.S. Electric Utility Industry

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  • Thomas P. Lyon

    () (University of Michigan)

  • John W. Mayo

    () (Georgetown University)

Abstract

Large sunk costs and incomplete regulatory contracts in public utilities create the possibility of opportunistic behavior by either regulators or regulated firms. We present an empirical methodology for identifying opportunism within a regulated setting, and apply it to the large-scale cost disallowances levied by state regulators on electric utilities during the 1980s. Examining the investment propensity of all firms---both those that faced cost disallowances and those that did not---within particular regulatory jurisdictions, we find little evidence that cost disallowances were opportunistic. Instead, regulators appear to have been largely driven by the desire to punish specific poorly managed utilities.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas P. Lyon & John W. Mayo, 2005. "Regulatory Opportunism and Investment Behavior: Evidence from the U.S. Electric Utility Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(3), pages 628-644, Autumn.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:36:y:2005:3:p:628-644
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Rahmatallah Poudineh and Tooraj Jamasb, 2015. "A New Perspective: Investment and Efficiency under Incentive Regulation," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4).
    2. Brunekreeft, G. & McDaniel, T., 2005. "Policy uncertainty and supply adequacy in electric power," Discussion Paper 2005-006, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
    3. Cullmann, Astrid & Nieswand, Maria, 2016. "Regulation and investment incentives in electricity distribution: An empirical assessment," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 192-203.
    4. Jacques Pelkmans & Lionel Kapff, 2010. "Interconnector Investment for a Well-functioning Internal Market. What EU regime of regulatory incentives?," Bruges European Economic Research Papers 18, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe.
    5. Tomaso Duso & Jo Seldeslachts & Florian Szücs, 2017. "The Impact of Competition Policy Enforcement on the Functioning of EU Energy Markets," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1674, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    6. Sebastian Nick & Heike Wetzel, 2016. "The hidden cost of investment: the impact of adjustment costs on firm performance measurement and regulation," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 49(1), pages 33-55, February.
    7. Mario Pietrunti, 2010. "Regulation and Investment Incentives for Next Generation Broadband Access Networks," Chapters,in: Promoting New Telecom Infrastructures, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Astrid Cullmann & Maria Nieswand, 2015. "Regulierung und Investitionen in der leitungsgebundenen Energieversorgung," DIW Roundup: Politik im Fokus 54, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    9. Roland Strausz, 2009. "Regulatory Risk under Optimal Incentive Regulation," CESifo Working Paper Series 2638, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Carlo Cambini & Elena Fumagalli & Laura Rondi, 2016. "Incentives to quality and investment: evidence from electricity distribution in Italy," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 49(1), pages 1-32, February.
    11. Salas-Fumás, Vicente & Rosell-Martínez, Jorge & Delgado-Gómez, José Manuel, 2016. "Capacity, investment and market power in the economic value of energy firms," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 28-39.
    12. 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.
    13. Thomas Lyon & Nathan Wilson, 2012. "Capture or contract? The early years of electric utility regulation," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 225-241, December.
    14. Cullmann, Astrid & Nieswand, Maria, 2015. "Regulation and Investment Incentives in Electricity Distribution," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113090, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    15. 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.
    16. Carlos Pérez Montes, 2011. "Optimal capital structure and Regulatory Control," Working Papers 1128, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    17. Woo, C.K. & Cheng, Y.S. & Law, A. & Zarnikau, J. & Ho, S.T. & Leung, H.Y., 2015. "Consumer support for a public utilities commission in Hong Kong," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 87-97.
    18. repec:kap:decono:v:166:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10645-017-9310-y is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Gugler, Klaus & Rammerstorfer, Margarethe & Schmitt, Stephan, 2013. "Ownership unbundling and investment in electricity markets — A cross country study," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 702-713.
    20. Rahmatallah Poudineh & Tooraj Jamasb, 2013. "Investment and Efficiency under Incentive Regulation: The Case of the Norwegian Electricity Distribution Networks," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1310, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.

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