Governance Alternatives and Pricing in the U.S. Electric Power Industry
John E. Kwoka, Jr.
Northeastern University - Department of Economics
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 278-294, 2002
Alternative governance mechanisms can be expected to result in differences in enterprise performance. This research analyzes the prices charged by U.S. electric utilities using a comprehensive pricing model and a large and detailed data set that controls for enterprise costs and subsidies. It finds that public ownership is associated with significantly lower prices than privately owned utilities, most likely because the latter are subject to regulation. Also associated with lower prices are elected commissioners (rather than those appointed by state governors), commissions with fewer members, and utilities whose governing bodies hold open meetings - all characteristics that imply more direct consumer influence on the price-determination process. Among customer groups, residential users are the biggest beneficiaries of public ownership, while industrial users appear to have more influence with elected state regulatory commissions. These findings are reconciled with theory and help explain the sometimes ambiguous results of previous studies.
Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: February 7, 2002
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