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RPI-X: Forecasting costs. Regulation and Competition John Cubbin. Overview. How do we work out financing requirement for a regulated natural monopoly?. Elements of cash flow model. Operating expenditures Maintenance, repairs, operation, customer transactions, central operations

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Rpi x forecasting costs l.jpg

RPI-X: Forecasting costs

Regulation and Competition

John Cubbin

Overview l.jpg

  • How do we work out financing requirement for a regulated natural monopoly?

Elements of cash flow model l.jpg
Elements of cash flow model

  • Operating expenditures

    • Maintenance, repairs, operation, customer transactions, central operations

  • Capital expenditures

  • Initial and closing regulatory asset base

  • Future values discounted at cost of capital, avoiding accounting rates of return

  • These are forward-looking costs, so costs need to be modelled

Modelling costs l.jpg
Modelling costs

  • Starting point is existing costs.

    • Are they “correct”?

    • Are they temporarily high or low for specific reasons? => initial adjustments

  • Future costs depend on future events

    • Need for forecasting elements

    • Especially “cost drivers”

Cost drivers generic l.jpg
Cost drivers: generic

Efficiency improvements

Financial environment

Improved quality

Demand growth

Environmental regulation


Operating Expenditures

Capital Expenditures

Cost of capital

Put in arrows to show main effects

Revenue requirement

Demand growth l.jpg
Demand growth

  • Assumptions based on:

    • Econometric analysis esp. income elasticities

    • Surveys

    • Other forecasts

  • Impact on:

    • New Capital expenditure

    • Fixed operating cost

    • Variable operating cost

Specific cost drivers electricity distribution impact of growth l.jpg
Specific cost drivers: electricity distribution – impact of growth

Electrical system costs:

optimal layout given demand patterns

number and distribution of customers

maximum demand at various points

provision for responding to faults, repairs, damage, etc.

deviations of actual from optimal

growth, churn, etc.

Non system costs

Billing, finance, regulation

some fixed elements, other related to customer numbers

Some of these are related to number of customers, some to demand or network complexity/length, some to overheads

Quality l.jpg
Quality of growth

  • The produce itself:

    • Water purity,

    • compliance of electricity with standards

    • Gas calorific value (Wobbe Index), water content, etc.

  • The quality of service:

    • Response times

      • Problems, billing, etc

    • Interruptions to service

      • Frequency, length, warnings, compensation

  • Some related to environmental considerations:

Environmental regulation l.jpg
Environmental regulation of growth

  • Examples:

    • CO2 and SO2 from power stations

    • Water discharged from sewage treatment stations

    • Pesticide and nitrates in drinking water

Efficiency l.jpg
Efficiency of growth

Requirement is usually to allow an efficient form to finance its activities

What if a firm is inefficient?

(and what do we mean by this anyway?)

The frontier l.jpg

Cost of growth

Empirical frontier

Theoretical frontier

Cost driver

The frontier

  • Minimum possible costs, given the cost drivers

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Investigating the frontier of growth

  • Engineeering investigation of practices:

    • intrusive, subjective

  • Comparative analysis

    • limited by paucity of observations

      • transco, NGC: no real comparators

        • but some use of inter-zonal comparisons in gas dist.

      • Distribution companies: 14 observations per year

  • International benchmarking? Difficulties

  • (Make deductions about relative importance of cost drivers from foreign studies?)

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Types of comparative data analysis of growth

  • Simple cost ratios

  • Regression analysis

  • Data envelope (DEA) and other frontier techniques

    Combination of cross section and time series? (panel data)

    Some scope for international comparisons, limited by data definition issues.

Movement of the frontier l.jpg
Movement of the frontier services

  • Total factor productivity analysis

    • compares movements of outputs and of inputs

    • long term trend

    • Energy industry plus other “similar” industries

    • Overseas industries

Composite output 1999 l.jpg
Composite output 1999 services

Component Relative weight

Customers  1.00

kWh  0.25

Network length  0.25

Engineering analysis 1 l.jpg
Engineering analysis 1 services

In order to assess the potential savings available to each PES, a number of techniques were applied as follows:

—a cost per network kilometre benchmark of £575 per km, based on costs from four "top" PESs;

—"engineering cost" based on a profile of its network assets using a best practice cost per asset;

—comparison of historic savings achieved -- four of the top PESs achieved savings in engineering costs of up to 40 per cent from 1994/95 to 1997/98: in addition, the extent of savings in costs from 1990/91 to 1994/95 was also considered;

—a review of each PES’s engineering organisational structures, field efficiency and operating practices;

Engineering analysis 2 l.jpg
Engineering analysis 2 services

  • 1) methods of cost reduction in past

  • 2) plans for future

  • Examples:

    • new terms and conditions of employment

    • increased condition monitoring of assets

    • staff multi-skilling

  • => range of estimated savings feeding into targets

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Key issues for operating costs services

  • How much productivity gains for the whole sector?

  • How much weight to put on “efficiency" findings?

    • How much of efficiency gap to be made up?

  • How quickly should companies approach frontier?

  • How long should companies keep productivity benefits?

    • P0 versus X

    • five year profile issues

      Informed by analysis of past reviews

      How well did companies forecast?

      How far did they all surpass targets?

      How well did efficiency scores predict efficiency gains?