The comparative efficiency of public and private power plants in Pakistan’s electricity industry

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    This study estimates a cost function for fossil fuel-based electricity generating plants operating in Pakistan during 2006–11. It employs a six-year panel dataset for 31 plants to estimate the cost function parameters. In the absence of any current evidence on comparative cost performance, the study’s attempt to document the economic efficiency of power plants in a large electricity sector is an important contribution to the literature. We find that on average, private nonutility plants (IPPs) are about 17 years younger than utility-owned plants and that the average capacity utilization, as measured by load factor, is higher for private IPPs than for public plants. After controlling for observables, the results show that, for a large part of the system, private plants produce electricity at a lower unit fuel cost than utility-owned public plants. The low efficiency of public plants is likely a result of the lack of operational maintenance and routine repairs. We find that the average fuel price (PRs per MMBTU) is lower for public plants and utility-owned private plants compared to nonutility-owned private plants which is mainly due to the composition of the fuel mix used for power generation. We also find that (i) the partial effect of fuel price changes on the average unit cost is higher for private plants than for public plants and (ii) on average, private plants use relatively expensive fuels compared to public plants. On an average fuel cost comparison, the private sector plants may be better base load plants than public sector plants, though the private sector plants may not be being used as base load plants because of the higher tariffs they change.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-26
    JournalThe Lahore Journal of Economics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Bibliographical note

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    • Cost function
    • utility-owned public plants
    • load factor
    • productive efficiency


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