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Guest lecture

Preparing Electricity Regulation for Disruptive Technologies, Business Models and Players - in the Long-Term Interests of Consumers

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Abstract

Summary

Dr Richard Meade was commissioned by ERANZ to produce an independent study of how New Zealand's electricity sector regulation should be adapted for new technologies, business models and players, in the long-term interest of consumers. The resulting White Paper was released this year.

Richard breaks this presentation into two parts:

  1. The first provides a high-level overview of his thesis that electricity sectors are ripe for disruption by new technologies, business models and players (e.g. firms with comparative advantages in knowing, predicting and influencing consumer preferences and behaviours). This could cause fundamental changes in the sector’s boundaries and competitive landscape; and
  2. The second focuses on questions of particular relevance to MBIE and Treasury – namely the sorts of changes in high-level “regulatory architecture” required to ensure long-term consumer interests are best served in the face of such technologies, business models and players. These include:
    1. A much more nuanced understanding of consumer preferences and need for regulatory protections
    2. An increasing reliance on horizontal (i.e. activity-based) rather than vertical (i.e. industry-specific) regulation;
    3. A greater role for competition regulation over industry-specific regulation; and
    4. A need for “efficiently dynamic regulation”– i.e. rules for signalling how regulation will evolve in an increasingly uncertain environment.

These themes will be related to priorities that have taken greater prominence since the paper was commissioned and written, including:

  1. Transitioning to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; and
  2. Addressing possible inequities in an increasingly differentiated/personalised world.

About the presenter

Dr Meade is Principal Economist at Cognitus Economic Insight, Senior Research Fellow in Economics at Auckland University of Technology, and Vice President Auckland of the Law & Economics Association of New Zealand (LEANZ). Through Cognitus he provides economic analysis, advice, research and representation to Government, corporates and Māori organisations. These include commissioned studies on the economics of imperfectly-competitive industries such as:

Alternating Currents or Counter-Revolution: Contemporary Electricity Reform in New Zealand, 2005, co-authored with Lewis Evans for ISCR; and
New Zealand Fuel Market Financial Performance Study, 2017, co-authored with New Zealand Institute of Economic Research and Grant Thornton​​, for MBIE.

Dr Meade's previous roles include acting as Strategy Director on the Ministry of Transport's Regulation 2025 project, which looked at how new transport technologies affect transport regulation. He was also Research Principal at the New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation (ISCR), and Associate Director of Investment Banking at Credit Suisse First Boston.

Richard was awarded a PhD with Distinction in Industrial Organisation and Regulation by Toulouse School of Economics in 2014. Originally from Wellington, he is now Auckland-based, with his wife and three teenagers.

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Last updated: 
Monday, 20 May 2019