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The Direct Costs and Benefits of US Electric Utility Divestitures

Author

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  • Triebs, T.P.
  • Pollitt, M.G.
  • Kwoka, J.E.

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of divestiture on the efficiency and costs of electric utilities. The empirical literature shows that there exist economies of scope for electric utilities and that divestiture decreases distribution efficiency but increases generation efficiency. This paper is to bring together these different results. Our analysis covers distribution, transmission, and power sourcing. Our data is an unbalanced panel of about 138 US electric utilities for the years 1994 to 2006 over which we observe 30 divestitures between 1997 and 2003. First, we regress firmlevel efficiencies for distribution and power sourcing on various divestiture indicators. Second, we compare the weighted cost between divested and non-divested firms and calculate a net present value for the entire sample of divestitures. Last, we regress net benefits from divestiture on the distribution side on the net benefit for power sourcing to see whether individual firms successfully off-set any costs of divestiture. We find that divestiture reduces distribution efficiency but increases power sourcing efficiency. Both effects depend on the amount of own nuclear generation output but not fossil-fuel or hydro output. The net present value for all divestitures in our sample is $11.3 billion. It seems that relatively lower costs of power outweigh losses in economies of scope as well as other restructuring costs. However, lower costs of power might be the result of favourable contracts put in place at the time of divestiture. Our study complements traditional studies of economies of scope and shows that divestitures might well be worth it.

Suggested Citation

  • Triebs, T.P. & Pollitt, M.G. & Kwoka, J.E., 2010. "The Direct Costs and Benefits of US Electric Utility Divestitures," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1049, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1049
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nickell, Stephen J, 1996. "Competition and Corporate Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 724-746, August.
    2. John Kwoka & Michael Pollitt & Sanem Sergici, 2010. "Divestiture policy and operating efficiency in U.S. electric power distribution," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 86-109, August.
    3. Delmas, Magali & Tokat, Yesim, 2003. "Deregulation Process, Governance Structures and Efficiency: The U.S. Electric Utility Sector," Research Papers 1790, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    4. Kaserman, David L & Mayo, John W, 1991. "The Measurement of Vertical Economies and the Efficient Structure of the Electric Utility Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(5), pages 483-502, September.
    5. Sappington, David E. M. & Pfeifenberger, Johannes P. & Hanser, Philip & Basheda, Gregory N., 2001. "The State of Performance-Based Regulation in the U.S. Electric Utility Industry," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 14(8), pages 71-79, October.
    6. Kwoka, John E., 2002. "Vertical economies in electric power: evidence on integration and its alternatives," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 653-671, May.
    7. Teece, David J., 1980. "Economies of scope and the scope of the enterprise," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 223-247, September.
    8. Pablo Arocena & David S. Saal & Tim Coelli, 2012. "Vertical and Horizontal Scope Economies in the Regulated U . S . Electric Power Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 434-467, September.
    9. Charnes, A. & Cooper, W. W. & Rhodes, E., 1978. "Measuring the efficiency of decision making units," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 2(6), pages 429-444, November.
    10. Michael Maloney, 2001. "Economies and Diseconomies: Estimating Electricity Cost Functions," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 19(2), pages 165-180, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pollitt, Michael G., 2012. "The role of policy in energy transitions: Lessons from the energy liberalisation era," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 128-137.
    2. Pollitt, Michael G. & Steer, Steven J., 2012. "Economies of scale and scope in network industries: Lessons for the UK water and sewerage sectors," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 17-31.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Electric utilities; divestiture; economies of scope; net present value;

    JEL classification:

    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

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