Energy Prices and Substitution in U.S. Manufacturing Plants
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Persistent regional disparities in electricity prices, growth in wholesale power markets, and recent deregulation attempts have intensified interest in the performance of the U.S. electric power industry, while skyrocketing fuel prices have brought renewed interest in the effect of changes in prices of all energy types on the U.S. economy. This dissertation examines energy prices and substitution between energy types in U.S. manufacturing. I use a newly constructed database that includes information on purchased electricity and electricity expenditures for more than 48,000 plants per year and additional data on the utilities that supply electricity to study the distribution of electricity prices paid by U.S. manufacturing plants from 1963 to 2000. I find a large compression in the dispersion of electricity prices from 1963 to 1978 due primarily to a decrease in quantity discounts for large electricity purchasers. I also find that spatial dispersion in retail electricity prices among states, counties and utility service territories is large, rises over time for smaller purchasers, and does not diminish as wholesale power markets expand in the 1990s. In addition, I examine energy type consumption patterns, prices, and substitution in U.S. manufacturing plants. I develop a plant-level dataset for 1998 with data on consumption and expenditures on energy and non-energy production inputs, output, and other plant characteristics. I find energy type consumption patterns vary widely across manufacturing plants. Further, I find a large amount of dispersion across plants in the prices paid for electricity, oil, natural gas, and coal. These high levels of dispersion are accounted for by the plant's location, industry, and purchase quantity. Finally, I present estimates of own- and cross-price elasticities of demand for both the energy and non-energy production inputs.