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Incorporating the Price of Quality in Efficiency Analysis: the Case of Electricity Distribution Regulation in the UK


  • Yu, W.
  • Jamasb, T.
  • Pollitt, M.


Efficiency analysis of electricity distribution networks is often limited to technical or cost efficiency measures. However, some important non-tradable aspects of their service such as quality of service and network energy losses are generally not part of the analysis. A regulatory concern is that technical efficiency can be achieved at the expense of these measures as well as allocative efficiency. Valuation of service quality for inclusion in regulatory models is particularly difficult. This paper presents an approach to measure and incorporate service quality and energy losses in analysis of technical and allocative efficiency of the utilities. We calculate technical and allocative efficiency of the 14 distribution networks in the UK between 1990/91 and 2003/04 using the Data Envelopment Analysis technique. We find that efficiency measures improved during the first (1990/91-1994/95) and second (1995/96-1999/00) distribution price control reviews and exhibited a slight decline during the third (2000/01-2004/05) review period. We find relatively low allocative efficiency - i.e. a mismatch in allocating resources among expenditures, service quality, and energy losses. The results suggest that the utilities may not be sufficiently incentivised to achieve socially optimal input bundles under the current incentive scheme.

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  • Yu, W. & Jamasb, T. & Pollitt, M., 2007. "Incorporating the Price of Quality in Efficiency Analysis: the Case of Electricity Distribution Regulation in the UK," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0736, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0736

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tim Coelli & Antonio Estache & Sergio Perelman & Lourdes Trujillo, 2003. "A Primer on Efficiency Measurement for Utilities and Transport Regulators," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15149.
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    3. Ajodhia, Virendra & Hakvoort, Rudi, 2005. "Economic regulation of quality in electricity distribution networks," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 211-221, September.
    4. Astrid Cullmann & Christian von Hirschhausen, 2007. "From Transition to Competition: Dynamic Efficiency Analysis of Polish Electricity Distribution Companies," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 716, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    5. R. D. Banker & A. Charnes & W. W. Cooper, 1984. "Some Models for Estimating Technical and Scale Inefficiencies in Data Envelopment Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(9), pages 1078-1092, September.
    6. Fredrik Carlsson & Peter Martinsson, 2007. "Willingness to Pay among Swedish Households to Avoid Power Outages: A Random Parameter Tobit Model Approach," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 75-90.
    7. Benjamin Bental & S. Abraham Ravid, 1982. "A Simple Method for Evaluating the Marginal Cost of Unsupplied Electricity," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 249-253, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dimitri Dimitropoulos and Adonis Yatchew, 2017. "Is Productivity Growth in Electricity Distribution Negative? An Empirical Analysis Using Ontario Data," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
    2. Anna Ter-Martirosyan & John Kwoka, 2010. "Incentive regulation, service quality, and standards in U.S. electricity distribution," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 258-273, December.
    3. Reichl, Johannes & Kollmann, Andrea & Tichler, Robert & Schneider, Friedrich, 2008. "The importance of incorporating reliability of supply criteria in a regulatory system of electricity distribution: An empirical analysis for Austria," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 3862-3871, October.
    4. Çelen, Aydın & Yalçın, Neşe, 2012. "Performance assessment of Turkish electricity distribution utilities: An application of combined FAHP/TOPSIS/DEA methodology to incorporate quality of service," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 59-71.
    5. Hyman, Leonard S., 2010. "Restructuring electricity policy and financial models," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 751-757, July.
    6. Pérez-Reyes, Raúl & Tovar, Beatriz, 2009. "Measuring efficiency and productivity change (PTF) in the Peruvian electricity distribution companies after reforms," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2249-2261, June.
    7. Yu, W. & Jamasb, T. & Pollitt, M.G., 2008. "Does Weather Explain the Cost and Quality? An Analysis of UK Electricity Distribution Companies," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0858, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    8. Yu, William & Jamasb, Tooraj & Pollitt, Michael, 2009. "Does weather explain cost and quality performance? An analysis of UK electricity distribution companies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(11), pages 4177-4188, November.

    More about this item


    Data Envelopment Analysis; electricity; quality of service; willingness-to-pay;

    JEL classification:

    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

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