Access Pricing under Rate‐of‐Return Regulation
Stephen King ()
Australian Economic Review, 1997, vol. 30, issue 3, 243-255
Third‐party access to major infrastructure facilities is a key component of National Competition Policy. In many situations, both through state regimes and access undertakings under the new part IIIA of the Trade Practices Act, access will be governed by explicit or implicit rate‐of‐return procedures. Infrastructure assets will be valued and translated into an allowable return for the owners. However, setting allowed returns is only the first part of the regulatory process. This paper uses a simple model to evaluate the ‘second‐best’ access prices under rate‐of‐return regulation. We show that optimal access prices will depend on the degree of downstream competition. With imperfect price competition and fixed numbers of firms downstream, optimal access prices will ‘mimic’ downstream competition and reduce downstream profits. With free entry downstream, optimal access pricing should determine an optimal level of downstream participation. We also show that the access provider’s incentives to introduce optimal access prices will depend on the degree of vertical integration.
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