Lights Off!

23 December 2005
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Lights Off!
Debunking the Myths of Power Liberalisation

TNI Briefing Series 3, May 2002

This report is available in English PDF and Spanish PDF

Liberalisation of the electricity sector is on the increase on a global scale. Corporate-driven reforms are portrayed by international financial institutions and multilateral development banks as means of improving efficiency and attracting foreign investment for national economic growth. Most countries across the world are taking steps towards privatisation and deregulation of the electricity sector, often to meet the conditions imposed by international donors or comply with regional or global trade agreements.

If the aim is really to improve the living conditions of ordinary people by lowering the cost and increasing the quality of power provision, privatisation and deregulation have evidently failed. During the past five years, from New Zealand to California and from India to Brazil, the world has witnessed a series of catastrophic blackouts, skyrocketing tariffs, growing corruption, environmental disasters and the collapse of Enron Corporation, a veritable icon of liberalisation.

This first issue of Power & Society attempts to look beyond the promised benefits of liberalisation and debunk some myths about power deregulation and privatisation worldwide.

Contents

  • Editorial
  • The Ideology of Power Liberalisation
  • Debunking the Myths of Power Liberalisation
    • Myth 1: After liberalisation the efficiency of the power sector will be improved
    • Myth 2: After liberalisation electricity will be cheaper
    • Myth 3: Power liberalisation is good for the environment
    • Myth 4: Governments can choose: nobody imposes privatisation and deregulation
    • Myth 5: Power liberalisation is good for democracy
    • Myth 6: Privatisation and deregulation are good for the poor
  • References
  • Useful Websites