The Effect of Wholesale Market Deregulation on Shareholder Wealth in the Electric Power Industry
This paper analyzes electric utility stock price reactions to events preceding the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, a development that precipitated the onset of competition in the wholesale sector of the electric utility industry and accelerated the pace toward state-level deregulation of the retail sector. For the industry as a whole, we find that, at worst, investors had neutral reactions to events preceding wholesale deregulation. However, stock price reactions vary systematically with differences in incumbent utilities' marginal costs, though not with differences in fixed costs or purchased power costs. These results are consistent with the notion that new technologies have substantially reduced barriers to entry into the electric power generation industry, rendering capital cost advantages of incumbent utilities vulnerable to being neutralized by new entrants. However, marginal cost advantages are more likely to be sustainable because they are likely to be driven by inimitable locational advantages. Copyright 2001 by the University of Chicago.
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