IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Ownership and competition: Finding Performance Breaks for Great Britain’s Power Plants


  • Triebs, T.P.
  • Pollitt, M.G.


The literature shows that for most UK industries privatization might be necessary but is not sufficient to produce economic benefits. Often prior changes in management or later changes in market structure and regulation have larger impacts than privatization itself. We ask what changes around privatization had the greatest impact on efficiency for UK electricity generators. We analyse the effects of privatization and other changes in incentives on plant efficiency using a newly compiled unbalanced panel of about 60 plants for the years 1980 to 2004. We measure efficiency as input demands for two standard inputs, fuel and labour as well as three air emissions, CO2, SO2, and NOx. We model the change in efficiency as a single intercept break and allow for the break to occur at an unknown date. Inference for breaks and break dates relies on Quandt-Andrews type tests. We find breaks associated with efficiency increases for fuel and labour. Breaks and efficiency changes for the three emissions are generally related to fuel efficiency privatization. Efficiency increases first for labour and later for fuel. We conclude that electricity privatization like other UK privatizations was a unique event. Privatization was important to prepare the ground but it seems that only the subsequent restructuring of the industry, the reduction of political interference in fuel choice, and investment in new and more efficient generation technologies increased efficiency.

Suggested Citation

  • Triebs, T.P. & Pollitt, M.G., 2010. "Ownership and competition: Finding Performance Breaks for Great Britain’s Power Plants," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1043, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1043
    Note: mgp20

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Vandezande, Leen & Meeus, Leonardo & Belmans, Ronnie & Saguan, Marcelo & Glachant, Jean-Michel, 2010. "Well-functioning balancing markets: A prerequisite for wind power integration," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 3146-3154, July.
    2. Benjamin F. Hobbs & Fieke A.M. Rijkers & Maroeska G. Boots, 2005. "The More Cooperation, The More Competition? A Cournot Analysis of the Benefits of Electric Market Coupling," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 69-98.
    3. Brunekreeft, Gert & Neuhoff, Karsten & Newbery, David, 2005. "Electricity transmission: An overview of the current debate," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 73-93, June.
    4. Adriaan Weijde & Benjamin Hobbs, 2011. "Locational-based coupling of electricity markets: benefits from coordinating unit commitment and balancing markets," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 39(3), pages 223-251, June.
    5. Meeus, Leonardo & Purchala, Konrad & Belmans, Ronnie, 2005. "Development of the Internal Electricity Market in Europe," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 25-35, July.
    6. Hsu, Michael, 1997. "An introduction to the pricing of electric power transmission," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 257-270, September.
    7. Ehrenmann, Andreas & Smeers, Yves, 2005. "Inefficiencies in European congestion management proposals," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 135-152, June.
    8. Chao, Hung-po & Peck, Stephen & Oren, Shmuel & Wilson, Robert, 2000. "Flow-Based Transmission Rights and Congestion Management," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 13(8), pages 38-58, October.
    9. Richard Green, 2007. "Nodal pricing of electricity: how much does it cost to get it wrong?," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 125-149, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Privatization; efficiency; structural breaks;

    JEL classification:

    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1043. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jake Dyer). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.