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The Direct Costs and Benefits of US Electric Utility Divestitures

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  • Thomas P. Triebs
  • Michael G. Pollitt

Abstract

Competition increases firms performance. But in many industries, especially network based industries, effective competition requires the separation of firms. Separation can lead to a trade-off between technical efficiency gains from competition and losses from separation. But separation itself can be beneficial, too. We estimate the combined effect of competition and vertical separation (as well as the individual effects) for the case of US electric utility divestitures. We analyse the difference-indifference in inefficient costs between divested units and non-divested units in either restructuring or non-restructuring states. We find that for our benchmark model of technology the combined effect is virtually zero. We analyze the uncertainty about the unobserved true technology and find that this number constitutes the lower bound whereas the upper bound is $24 billion. Generally, the effect of separation itself is much larger than the effect of competition. Also, the effect of separation is positive for most models of the technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas P. Triebs & Michael G. Pollitt, 2015. "The Direct Costs and Benefits of US Electric Utility Divestitures," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1543, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1543
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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

    divestiture; economies of scope; electric utilities;

    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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