Under-pricing electricity and the puzzle of regulatory accounting
Abstract: State-owned electricity companies typically set prices that are too low to finance new investment when needed, and which create additional problems where private investment is sought. The paper asks to what extent this can be attributed to historic cost accounting, and finds that provided the required rate of return is appropriately set, this seems unlikely to be the main cause of under-pricing, although inflation in a period of excess capacity can amplify such under-pricing. It seems more likely that the main problem is a failure to charge an appropriate riskadjusted rate of return. The paper concludes by suggesting how such companies can move to a more efficient price structure, provided the correct cost of capital is recognised in the regulated pricing structure.
Keywords: Electricity investment, pricing, accounting, cost of capital