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Pitfalls in estimating the X-factor : The case of energy transmission regulation in Brazil

Afsharian, Mohsen GND; Ahn, Heinz GND; Lopes, Ana; Vilela, Bruno

In Brazil, which has one of the biggest energy systems in the world, the National Electricity Regulatory Agency (Agência Nacional de Energia Elétrica – ANEEL) regulates the generation, transmission, distribution and commercialization of electricity. As a key step in running the incentive regulation regime, the regulator applies a DEA-based Malmquist index for estimating the X-factor, which reflects productivity gains that can be expected across all companies involved in the industry. This paper investigates the way the X-factor was estimated in 2015 by ANEEL in the transmission sector concerning the review period 2009–2014. The regulator applies a modified version of the Malmquist index developed by Ray and Desli [1] and also adapts the bootstrapping method of Simar and Wilson [2] to generate confidence intervals for an estimate of the X-factor. Analyzing ANEEL’s approach, we have discovered a number of serious analytical and computational shortcomings, which we demonstrate in the paper. On this basis, we address the effect of the estimated X-factor on social welfare, having the final customers to pay a higher price for electricity than they were supposed to.

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