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Electricity Pricing to U.S. Manufacturing Plants, 1963-2000

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Listed:
  • Steven J. Davis
  • Cheryl Grim
  • John Haltiwanger
  • Mary Streitwieser

Abstract

We develop a large customer-level database to study electricity pricing to U.S. manufacturing plants from 1963 to 2000. We document tremendous dispersion in price per kWh, trace that dispersion to quantity discounts and spatial differentials, estimate the role of cost factors in quantity discounts, and test whether marginal price schedules conform to marginal cost and Ramsey pricing conditions. Our cost analysis and pricing tests rely on a novel empirical approach that exploits utility-level differences in the customer size distribution to estimate how supply costs vary with purchase quantity. The results reveal that annual supply costs per kWh fall by more than half in moving from smaller to bigger purchasers, providing a clear cost-based rationale for quantity discounts. Before the mid 1970s, marginal price and marginal cost schedules are nearly identical, in line with efficient pricing. In later years, marginal supply costs exceed marginal prices for smaller manufacturing customers by 10% or more. In contrast to a clear role for cost factors, our evidence provides no support for a standard Ramsey-pricing interpretation of quantity discounts. Spatial dispersion in retail electricity prices among states, counties and utility service territories is large and rises over time for smaller purchasers.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven J. Davis & Cheryl Grim & John Haltiwanger & Mary Streitwieser, 2008. "Electricity Pricing to U.S. Manufacturing Plants, 1963-2000," NBER Working Papers 13778, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13778 Note: EEE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Peltzman, Sam, 1971. "Pricing in Public and Private Enterprises: Electric Utilities in the United States," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 109-147, April.
    2. Paul L. Joskow & Richard Schmalensee, 1988. "Markets for Power: An Analysis of Electrical Utility Deregulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262600188, January.
    3. Brown,Stephen J. & Sibley,David Sumner, 1986. "The Theory of Public Utility Pricing," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521314008, December.
    4. Severin Borenstein & Stephen Holland, 2005. "On the Efficiency of Competitive Electricity Markets with Time-Invariant Retail Prices," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, pages 469-493.
    5. Meyer, Robert A & Leland, Hayne E, 1980. "The Effectiveness of Price Regulation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(4), pages 555-566, November.
    6. Lucia Foster & John C. Haltiwanger & C. J. Krizan, 2001. "Aggregate Productivity Growth: Lessons from Microeconomic Evidence," NBER Chapters,in: New Developments in Productivity Analysis, pages 303-372 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Severin Borenstein & Stephen Holland, 2005. "On the Efficiency of Competitive Electricity Markets with Time-Invariant Retail Prices," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, pages 469-493.
    8. Besanko, David & D'Souza, Julia & Thiagarajan, S Ramu, 2001. "The Effect of Wholesale Market Deregulation on Shareholder Wealth in the Electric Power Industry," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 65-88, April.
    9. M. Barry Goldman & Hayne E. Leland & David S. Sibley, 1984. "Optimal Nonuniform Prices," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 305-319.
    10. Severin Borenstein, 2002. "The Trouble With Electricity Markets: Understanding California's Restructuring Disaster," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 191-211, Winter.
    11. Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2007. "ROBUSTNESS OF PRODUCTIVITY ESTIMATES -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(3), pages 529-569, September.
    12. Wilson, Robert, 1997. "Nonlinear Pricing," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195115826.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kugler, M., Verhoogen, E.A., 2008. "Product Quality at the Plant Level: Plant Size, Exports, Output Prices and Input Prices in Colombia," Working Papers eg0058, Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2008.
    2. Maurice Kugler & Eric Verhoogen, 2012. "Prices, Plant Size, and Product Quality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 307-339.
    3. Kahn, Matthew E. & Mansur, Erin T., 2013. "Do local energy prices and regulation affect the geographic concentration of employment?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 105-114.
    4. Hamidreza Hajibabaei & Davood Manzoor, 2014. "Regional Electricity Pricing With Ramsey Approach: Tehran Case Study," International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, vol. 4(3), pages 182-186, July.
    5. Matthew E. Kahn & Erin T. Mansur, 2010. "How Do Energy Prices, and Labor and Environmental Regulations Affect Local Manufacturing Employment Dynamics? A Regression Discontinuity Approach," NBER Working Papers 16538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L60 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - General
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • Q40 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - General

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