Deregulation, Restructuring and Changing R&D Paradigms in the US Electric Utility Industry
This paper studies the impact of electricity deregulation and restructuring on research and development (R&D) expenditures of investor owned utilities. The differing pace of deregulation in the fifty states provides heterogeneity in institutional structure and competitive forces, and showcases the response of R&D funding to changing institutional environments. Based on a panel of all major investor-owned utilities from 1989-1997, this paper analyzes various political constraints, institutional change, and firm-specific financial and structural factors that have contributed to the decline of R&D expenditure in the U.S. electric utility industry. R&D is modeled as a two-stage process where firms first decide whether to invest in research depending on their critical mass and state characteristics, and then conditional on a positive decision, decide on the level of expenditure. A variation of the Heckman model is estimated in a panel data setting, allowing for separate effects of selection and intensity. The primary findings are: First, greater deregulation and competition has a positive effect on R&D whereas a higher probability of deregulation adversely affects research spending. The start date for retail competition and level and policies for stranded cost recovery do affect spending. Second, the response of R&D to financial and other firm attributes varies with the state of deregulation and provides insights into firm behavior in a regulated context. Third, the institutional and competitive factors interact in a way that suggest that full deregulation, coupled with effective retail competition may mitigate the problem of declining electricity R&D by the utilities.
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- Bushnell, James & Wolfram, Catherine, 2008. "Electricity Markets," Staff General Research Papers 31547, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
- 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.
- Joskow, P.L., 1989. "Regulatory Failure, Regulatory Reform And Structural Change In The Electric Power Industry," Working papers 516, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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