Research Update

Fall 2011

Greetings! We bring you research news from the Public Utility Research Center (PURC) at the University of Florida. Our electronic newsletter is designed to keep utility regulators, policymakers, and infrastructure managers informed of our research activities. We invite you to join our mailing list and receive our bulletins by email.


Wind Generation and Zonal-Market Price Divergence: Evidence from Texas

How does renewable energy impact the transmission grid? Focusing on wind energy in Texas, these authors find wind generation at times leads to congestion and impacts network prices, indicating a need for increased network investment. Even though the study is limited to Texas, it has implications for the expansion of renewable energy elsewhere. Read the paper, "Wind Generation and Zonal-Market Price Divergence: Evidence from Texas".


Water Utility Benchmarking: Measurement, Methodologies, and Performance Initiatives

Benchmarking is essential for those developing and implementing water policy. If decision-makers do not know where they have been or where they are, it would seem to be impossible to set reasonable targets for future performance. Information on water/sewerage system operations, investments, and outputs is essential for good management and oversight.

This book is designed to help decision-makers identify the data required for performance comparisons over time and across water utilities, to understand the strengths and limitations of alternative benchmarking methodologies, and to perform (or commission) benchmark studies. In addition, it identifies ways to determine the robustness of performance rankings. Current benchmarking activities in Latin America, Asia, Africa, Central Europe/Asia, and OECD nations are summarized.

This is an excellent handbook for utility monitors or regulators whose primary duty is to oversee performance management. It is a valuable resource for decision-makers, analysts, and policy-makers and can be used in capacity-building programs both in-house and in universities around the world. Read the book, "Water Utility Benchmarking: Measurement, Methodologies, and Performance Initiatives".


Economic and Environmental Sustainability through Adaptive Leadership

Is there ever hope to overcome long-enduring mistrust, animosity and battles over fixed resources? Rural landholders and city dwellers in New York found a way.

As a result, FERC approved the formation of independent system operators (ISOs) and regional transmission organizations (RTOs) charged with facilitating equal access to the transmission grid for electricity suppliers. Whether these changes in market structure have succeeded in achieving FERC's goal remains an open question. This paper explores a panel data set of the 48 contiguous United States and a treatment effects model to determine whether delivered electric prices have been affected. Read the paper, "Economic and Environmental Sustainability through Adaptive Leadership".


Price Effects of Independent Transmission System Operators in the United States Electricity Market

In 1996, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) sought to "remove impediments to competition in the wholesale bulk power marketplace and to bring more efficient, lower cost power to the nation's electricity consumers."

As a result, FERC approved the formation of independent system operators (ISOs) and regional transmission organizations (RTOs) charged with facilitating equal access to the transmission grid for electricity suppliers. Whether these changes in market structure have succeeded in achieving FERC's goal remains an open question. This paper explores a panel data set of the 48 contiguous United States and a treatment effects model to determine whether delivered electric prices have been affected. Read the paper, "Price Effects of Independent Transmission System Operators in the United States Electricity Market".


Quantitative Studies of Water and Sanitation Utilities: A Literature Survey

The water sector is significant in terms of the public policy issues raised by water resource management and by access to water and sanitation services, especially in developing countries. Given the level and mix of research activity on this sector, it is useful to draw together the studies to better understand when, what, and where articles have been published and which results are the most decision-relevant.

This literature survey includes 190 quantitative studies that use cost or production functions to evaluate the performance of water and sanitation services utilities. In addition, this paper presents some patterns regarding quantitative methods adopted over time and major trends in results. Read the paper, "Quantitative Studies of Water and Sanitation Utilities: A Literature Survey".


PURC Facebook Discussion on Telecoms Interconnection

Would you like to see how interconnection prices are elsewhere in the world? Ask a question of your peers? Or share your insights and information?

PURC has started a Facebook discussion just for that purpose. Identified as an unmet need during the 30th PURC/World Bank International Training Program on Utility Regulation and Strategy, this site allows regulatory professionals from around the world to share information, nonproprietary data, and ideas. Contribute to the discussion! Visit PURC's Facebook page.


Infrastructure for Economic Development and Poverty Reduction in Africa

UN-HABITAT released its 2011 report "Infrastructure for Economic Development and Poverty Reduction in Africa." The report compiles cross-country data from telecommunications, water and sanitation, energy, and transport and includes policy recommendations. Regulation is seen as contributing to improved sector performance in the region.


A Description of Current Regulatory Practices for the Promotion of Energy Efficiency

The recently founded International Confederation of Energy Regulators released its first report "A Description of Current Regulatory Practices for the Promotion of Energy Efficiency." The report presents information gathered from the world's energy markets on regulatory practices aimed at fostering energy efficiency.


Did You Miss These Studies?

Strategic Planning for Florida Governmental Broadband Capabilities, Volumes 1 and 2

Can governments improve their use of broadband by investing in their own networks rather than buying from the private sector?

This study of governments in Florida finds conflicting results. Government-owned broadband networks generally cost taxpayers more in reality than buying from the private sector, but the higher costs are not readily observable because governmental entities do not compensate taxpayers for their opportunity costs. However, local governments are often successful in finding ways to save money and serve unmet needs by leveraging underutilized assets and making targeted investments in locations where the private sector has not yet gone. Read the paper, "Strategic Planning for Florida Governmental Broadband Capabilities, Volumes 1 and 2".

Dumbing Down the Net: A Further Look at the Net Neutrality Debate

The provision of and charging for premium transmission speed of Internet packets consistently appear in the public debate.

Proponents of net neutrality argue that the network should be nothing more than infrastructure that adds no value to the service. Thus, innovation should occur only at the edges of the network. Net neutrality advocates also hold that the network should be a commons that broadband users are allowed to use in ways that are not illegal and do not harm the network, and networks should not discriminate between uses, users, and content. In contrast, network providers such as AT&T argue that offering premium transmission services will improve customer choice, and ISPs would not degrade service to content providers not purchasing the premium transmission speed. Read the paper, "Dumbing Down the Net: A Further Look at the Net Neutrality Debate".


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