‘The 10 x 8 Meter Relay: An assessment of how introducing comparative information may induce inter-group competition in energy efficiency’

The CCP Seminar Series continues on Friday 22nd January 2016, where we will be treated to a debut performance by the brilliant Mike Brock (CCP & ECO) who joined the Centre as a member in June 2015. Mike has been a Lecturer in Microeconomics at the UEA School of Economics since August 2014 and has numerous research interests, including specialist interest in the relationship between environmental assets and subjective well-being. His seminar will introduce his most recent project, ‘The 10 x 8 Meter Relay: An assessment of how introducing comparative information may induce inter-group competition in energy efficiency‘. An abstract for his seminar can be found below.

Abstract

This presentation will introduce a new natural field study currently underway at UEA. The project provides weekly information to students living in Halls of Residence on their absolute and relative energy usage.  Provided at an aggregated (flat-level) degree, the motivation for this study is to decipher how and to what extent non-financial stimuli can be used to try and incite behavioural change and invite participants to consider their empirical choices and actions. The study forms part of a wider literature which seeks to assess how and why consumers can be induced into making more conscious decisions and the necessary level of persuasion and reinforcement such methods require to achieve long-lasting success.

The seminar takes place from 13:00-14:00 in the Elizabeth Fry Building, Room 01.10. Tea will be provided directly afterwards in the Elizabeth Fry Staff Room.

‘Trading Flexibility in Power Markets’

We are rounding off our Autumn seminar series in style on Friday 18th December, where our esteemed guest Peter Møllgaard (Copenhagen Business School) will present ‘Trading Flexibility in Power Markets‘. Peter is both a Professor of Industrial Organization and Head of the CBS Department of Economics. His main research interests lie in the application of industrial economics to competition policy, and he has published on a wide array of topics (including mergers, dominance, and damages claims). An abstract for his paper can be found below.

Abstract

Due to increased amounts of renewable energy supply, power markets increasingly value flexibility, i.e., the possibility to modify generation or demand within a timescale ranging from minutes to hours in response to variability. We set up an economic model of bilateral trade between a prosumer that offers to sell flexibility to an aggregator who, in turn, resells this flexibility in a marketplace. We show that flexibility trading is welfare enhancing as long as a transaction-cost reducing technology is in place.

The seminar takes place from 13:00-14:00 in the Thomas Paine Study Centre, Room 1.03. Tea will be provided directly afterwards in the MBA Café (TPSC, Floor 2).

This is the final CCP seminar of the Autumn semester, but we will return in January 2016 with more cutting-edge commentary from the world of competition policy and regulation. You can keep up-to-date with our future seminars by visiting the designated pages on our website.

‘You: The Problem in Energy Policy’

The Autumn Seminar Series continues on Friday 4th December with the delightful Elizabeth Errington (CCP and PPL) presenting ‘You: The Problem in Energy Policy‘. Liz is a PhD student in the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communications Studies, where she researches a host of issues, including energy policy, consumers and affordability. An abstract for her presentation can be found below.

Abstract

The challenge of delivering affordable, sustainable and secure energy supplies continues to keep energy policy firmly on the agenda. However, despite consistent focus by practitioners and researchers the processes and results of the formulation of these policies still remains largely unknown.

Many factors ensure policy formulation generally and energy policy specifically is opaque. These include the multiple and interlinked roles of actors and policy venues, the role of an economic regulator and the activities of firms (with the associated need for commercial confidentiality). In addition to the complexity of the processes themselves, energy policy formulation is opaque due to these processes occurring largely ‘behind closed doors’.

This presentation will outline the research opportunities of using the way ‘problems’ are identified, conceptualized and represented to provide important insights into the opaque world of energy policy formulation. This will be illustrated using the initial findings from one year of a PhD study.

The findings so far? The problem is you.

The seminar will take place from 13:00-14:00 in Room 1.03 of the Thomas Paine Study Centre.

‘The Affordability of Utilities’ Services in the EU: Extent, Practice and Policy’

CCP’s Autumn Seminar Series continues on Friday 13th November with our very own David Deller (CCP) evaluating ‘The Affordability of Utilities’ Services in the EU: Extent, Practice and Policy‘. The seminar is based on an extensive research project that David has undertaken with Catherine Waddams (CCP) for the Centre on Regulation in Europe (CERRE). The findings of the project are available here, and an abstract for the seminar can be found below.

Abstract

The affordability of utilities (energy, water, telecoms and transport) is a major issue on European policy agendas. This seminar reports the key findings from a recent research project into this topic conducted for the Centre on Regulation in Europe. Key results are highlighted from the most comprehensive mapping of utility affordability in the EU yet compiled and analysis of household-level expenditure data from countries including the UK, France and the Republic of Ireland. Major findings are the stark differences in expenditure shares devoted to utilities between ‘old’ and ‘new’ Member States and the pitfalls of using high-level affordability metrics to evaluate the performance of policies designed to improve utility affordability. The empirical results will be complemented by overviews of different metrics that can be used to evaluate utility affordability and the effectiveness of policies used to tackle fuel poverty.

 

David’s presentation takes place from 13:00-14:00 in the Thomas Paine Study Centre, Room 1.03. 

‘Collective Switching’

Our seminar series continues on Friday 12th June with the tremendous Catherine Waddams (CCP and NBS) presenting ‘Collective Switching‘. Catherine is a Professor of Regulation at the Norwich Business School. Her research interests lie in the area of Industrial Organisation, and she has published widely on privatisation, regulation and the introduction of competition into markets, particularly energy markets. An abstract for her presentation can be found below.

Abstract

We had the opportunity to observe over a hundred thousand ‘real’ switching decisions in the retail energy market by participants in The Big Switch collective switching exercise, organised by Which?, in 2012.  Our main initial findings are that:

1. The probability of switching rises with increases in the gains available;

2. Despite substantial gains available (median value around a tenth of the bill), and very little further effort required to switch, only a third of participants chose to change their supplier;

3.Participants who saw two offers were less likely to switch than those who saw only one.

We are particularly interested in understanding what lies behind this third finding.

The seminar takes place from 13:00-14:00 in the Thomas Paine Study Centre, Room 1.03.

This presentation is based on the results gathered by CCP during the Big Switch project, in conjunction with the Which? consumer group. You can download the full CCP report at the following link [PDF, 1.75MB].

CCP research cited in CMA issues statement on GB energy markets

Research undertaken by two CCP members has been referenced in the Competition and Market Authority’s updated issues statement as it continues its on-going investigation into British energy markets.

A CCP Working Paper by Professor Catherine Waddams (CCP & Norwich Business School) and Dr Minyan Zhu (CCP & Nottingham University Business School) is cited by the CMA in relation to the impact of the introduction of the Standard Licence Condition 25A (the SLC 25A non-discrimination clause) in 2009. The paper, ‘Pricing in the UK retail energy market 2005-2013‘, found that the non-discrimination clause prompted an adverse effect on competition in the energy market after its inception. An abstract for the paper can be found below.

UK governments and the energy regulator have shown increasing concern about the health of competition in the residential energy market, following their pioneering deregulation at the end of the last century. We identify the effects of introducing the non-discrimination clauses in 2009, a major regulatory intervention and the first since deregulation. We explore the effect of this intervention on the price movements of the six major players, and find that the nature of competition in the industry has changed, with less effective rivalry between the regional incumbents and large regional competitors following the intervention; companies seem to have ‘retreated’ to their home regions, leaving a market where pricing behaviour resembles more closely a duopoly between British Gas and the regional incumbent.

See also:

Catherine Waddams, ‘Is an in-depth energy market inquiry worth it?‘ (March 27, 2014) Competition Policy Blog.

Morten Hviid & Catherine Waddams, ‘Non-discrimination Clauses in the Retail Energy Sector‘ (2012) 122 The Economic Journal 236-252.

CCP Research Bulletin, Issue 27 – Now available

The Summer 2014 edition of the CCP Research Bulletin is now available for download [PDF, 332KB].

Research Bulletin (Summer 2014)

Articles in Issue 27 include:

‘At last, a competition inquiry for energy – will it bring relief or disappointment?’ (Catherine Waddams)

‘Differentiated tax on differentiated products markets’ (Anna Rita Bennato and Franco Mariuzzo)

‘The processes for regulatory appeals: One size does not fit all’ (Despoina Mantzari)

‘Do small business customers need more buyer protection?’             (Amelia Fletcher, Antonios Karatzas and Antje Kreutzmann-Gallasch)

‘What happens when collusive firms try to avoid antitrust punishment?’ (Subhasish M. Chowdhury and Frederick Wandschneider)

‘The use of general merger control in English healthcare’ (Mary Guy)

Plus: News from CCP, upcoming events and our book launch.

Live comments from the CCP Summer Conference 2014 – Session 1

Session 1: Introduction – What is a Problem Market?

Stephen Davies  (CCP, UEA) opened with some personal thoughts on clarifying “problem markets”. While no textbook definition exists, we know that certain markets generate a stream of work for competition authorities, despite any obvious contravention of competition or antitrust law. Could it be that these markets are “too hot to handle”? Stephen’s personal list of problem markets includes retail energy, supermarkets and healthcare. In more academic terms, the issues can be characterised in terms of tacit collusion, behavioural consumers, manipulation of thin markets, divergent incentives and public policy objectives.

CCP Session 1 Steve

Amelia Fletcher (CCP, UEA) explored the “gap” between competition and consumer law via two themes: the “gap” between core competition and consumer law, and the issue of potentially costly and ineffective ex ante remedial intervention which may have unintended consequences. While ex post standard competition law may be considered to address issues arising on the consumer side (in accessing, assessing and acting on relevant information), it deals less well with supply-side issues such as existing structural issues and market manipulation. Sectoral regulators and the CMA (via market investigations) are increasingly involved in this “gap”, with a current focus on search and switching costs and facilitating entry and expansion. However, there may be a need for further considerations, such as whether problems have been misdiagnosed and remedies poorly designed.

CCP Session 1 Amelia

 

Ashleye Gunn (Which?) Started by challenging the (pre-financial crisis) accepted wisdom that “markets always work” by calling for qualification of buzzwords such as “choice” (needs to be meaningful), “innovation” (needs to benefit consumers) and “information” (there is a need for clear and comparable pricing information). Which? uses two tests identify problem markets, and specifically the source and extent of ‘problems’ for consumers: whether the market is achieving its aims, and whether it is working for consumers as well as business. In particular, confusing pricing has been identified as central to problems because it can lead to consumers not driving competition. Which? campaigns therefore incorporate a range of different issues from ‘everyday frustrations’ to significant structural and cultural issues in major sectors. These campaigns involve not only traditional policy lobbying but also direct intervention in markets where consumers are at a disadvantage.

CCP Session 1 Ashleye

Catherine Waddams (CCP, UEA) introduced CCP’s collaboration with Which? on The Big Switch (TBS) by clarifying aspects of a well-functioning market and how energy may differ from this, for example by possible softening of some rivalry between companies. The study used probit analysis to identify the effects of multiple factors on switching decisions. Key results were that seeing two offers rather than one reduced the likelihood of switching by five percentage points, and that confidence was an important factor in determining activity.

CCP Session 1 Catherine

Live comments from the CCP Summer Conference 2014

Welcome to the Live Blog of the CCP Summer Conference 2014!

Over the next two days, you can follow CCP’s 10th anniversary conference on “Problem Markets” (ranging from energy to health) with session blogs by CCP’s economics, law and political science PhD researchers Khemla Armoogum, Elizabeth Errington, Mary Guy, Richard Havell and Liang Lu.

You can also follow us on Twitter using #ccp2014conf courtesy of David Reader.

After a brief introduction and warm welcome by CCP’s Director Morten Hviid, we will kick off at 9.45am on Thursday 12th June with Steve Davies, Amelia Fletcher, Ashleye Gunn and Catherine Waddams discussing “What is a problem market?”.

Over two days we will be covering aspects as diverse as the US and EU experience of managing problem markets, demand and supply-side issues and competition with divergent public policy concerns in markets ranging from energy to health.

Day 1 (Thursday 12th June) sees presentations by:

More to follow about Day 2!

In the meantime, we hope you will enjoy the conference and look forward to receiving your feedback!

 

CCP Conference speakers montage 2

‘The globalization of energy regulation: networks and politics intertwined’

The latest offering in the CCP’s Spring seminar comes courtesy of the hugely gifted Francesca Vantaggiato (CCP) , a Research Associate at the Centre, who will be presenting her research on ‘The globalization of energy regulation: networks and politics intertwined‘ on Friday 7th March. An abstract for her seminar can be found below.

Abstract

The presentation will tackle the topic of regionalism and globalization of energy regulation, as implemented by energy regulators themselves. Regionalism and/or globalization in regulatory matters have been explored in a number of other sectors, namely securities, banking, standard-setting by private bodies, competition. Energy is, among the utilities, the sector in which such developments were to be expected given the geopolitical dimension of energy issues. Currently, there are 11 energy Regional Regulatory Networks in the world, which collectively represent over 200 energy national/state regulatory authorities from all continents. RRNs usually respect a geographical criterion and have both an internal and an external function: internally, they serve to enhance members’ capacity and to socialize members; externally, they serve as means of contact with regulators and other energy stakeholders in other countries. It is hypothesised that energy regulators, in both developed and developing countries, far from being unconcerned with political and power relations, endorse domestic foreign policy objectives with regard to energy issues, and help in carrying them out also through RRNs. The regulators’ motivation to do so could be traced in their willingness to increase their own institutional relevance and legitimacy, both nationally and internationally. By examining the history and the features of these RRNs, the presentation will introduce a set of research questions that aim to investigate the extent and the goals of these regionalization processes. In particular, the role EU and USA regulators have played and play in shaping the features of other RRNs will be presented as evidence of the stated hypothesis.

The seminar takes place from 13:00-14:00 in the Thomas Paine Study Centre, Room 1.1.