Using the Data and Your Knowledge of Economics Assess the Arguments for and Against the Government Intervening in the Uk Electricity Industry. (25 Marks)

1185 Words Jan 6th, 2016 5 Pages
June 2015 Unit 3
Context 1 Q3
‘Critics of Big Six might argue that electricity companies should not have electricity companies should not have been privatised as they can never behave or perform like supermarkets.’ (Extract C, lines 15-16)
Using the data and your knowledge of economics assess the arguments for and against the government intervening in the UK electricity industry. (25 marks) The big six energy firms effectively have an oligopoly on the UK energy market despite the existence of some smaller firms who are mainly involve in the retail aspect of the market (extract A). The market concentration of these firms and the
…show more content…
The low price elasticity of demand for household energy given the lack of easy alternatives means that consumers will continue to purchase it even when prices rise drastically as we can see from extract A they did over the three year period. Furthermore the complex pricing structures in the energy market make it difficult for consumers to exercise any consumer sovereignty because they lack the information or indeed don’t know how to interpret it, to make a decision which is in their best interest.

However this latter argument ignores the fundamental advantage that big firms enjoy over small firms: economies of scale. Given the capital intensive nature of the energy industry it is most likely that large firms enjoy cost advantages that smaller firms will be unable to achieve; we can predict that the MES of an energy firm exists at an extremely high output level and so has a downward sloping long run average cost curve as seen below:

In these circumstances, the cost structures are not the same as with the competitive industry and so we cannot say that the oligopolistic firm results in higher prices than if a competitive market structure were to be adopted. In fact going along the theory of the downward sloping cost curve we can come to the conclusion that it would be the other way around and consumers would
Open Document