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The Guy at the Controls: Labor Quality and Power Plant Efficiency

  • Bushnell, James
  • Wolfram, Catherine

This paper examines the impact of individual human operators on the fuel efficiency of power plants. Although electricity generation is a fuel and capital intensive enterprise, anecdotal evidence, interviews, and empirical analysis support the hypothesis that labor, particularly power plant operators, can have a non-trivial impact on the operating efficiency of the plant. We present evidence to demonstrate these effects and survey the policies and practices of electricity producing firms that either reduce or exacerbate fuel efficiency differences across individual plant operators.

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Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 13137.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:13137
Contact details of provider: Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.edu
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  1. Christopher R. Knittel, 2002. "Alternative Regulatory Methods And Firm Efficiency: Stochastic Frontier Evidence From The U.S. Electricity Industry," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 530-540, August.
  2. Newbery, D.M. & Pollitt, M.G., 1996. "The Restructuring and Privatisation of the CEGB: Was It Worth It?," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9607, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  3. Barton H. Hamilton & Jack A. Nickerson & Hideo Owan, 2003. "Team Incentives and Worker Heterogeneity: An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Teams on Productivity and Participation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(3), pages 465-497, June.
  4. Mas, Alexandre & Moretti, Enrico, 2006. "Peers at Work," IZA Discussion Papers 2292, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2000. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," NBER Working Papers 7819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Paul L. Joskow, 1997. "Restructuring, Competition and Regulatory Reform in the U.S. Electricity Sector," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 119-138, Summer.
  7. G. Steven Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," NBER Working Papers 3977, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341.
  9. Imran Rasul & Iwan Barankay & Orana Bandiera, 2005. "Social preferences and the response to incentives: Evidence from personnel data," Natural Field Experiments 00212, The Field Experiments Website.
  10. Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1995. "Production Functions: The Search for Identification," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1719, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  11. Christensen, Laurits R & Greene, William H, 1976. "Economies of Scale in U.S. Electric Power Generation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 655-76, August.
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