NBER

Thomas Schmid

Faculty of Business and Economics
University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong

E-Mail: schmid@hku.hk
Institutional Affiliation: University of Hong Kong

NBER Working Papers and Publications

November 2019Climate Change, Operating Flexibility and Corporate Investment Decisions
with Chen Lin, Michael S. Weisbach: w26441
Extreme temperatures lead to large fluctuations in electricity demand and wholesale prices of electricity, which in turn affects the optimal production process for firms to use. Using a large international sample of planned power plant projects, we measure the way that electric utilities’ investment decisions depend on the frequency of extreme temperatures. We find that they invest more in regions with more extreme temperatures. These investments are mostly in flexible gas and oil-fired power plants that can easily adjust their output, to improve their operating flexibility. Our results suggest that climate change is becoming a meaningful factor affecting firms’ behavior.
May 2017Price Risk, Production Flexibility, and Liquidity Management: Evidence from Electricity Generating Firms
with Chen Lin, Michael S. Weisbach: w23434
Production inflexibility together with product price uncertainty creates price risk, which is a potentially important factor for firms’ liquidity management. One industry for which price risk can be measured is the electricity producing industry. We use data on hourly electricity prices in 41 markets to measure fluctuations in output prices and information on over 60,000 power plants to approximate firms’ flexibilty to vary output quantities. Our results suggest that higher electricity price volatility leads to increased cash holdings, but only in firms using inflexible production technologies. This effect is robust to a number of specification choices including instrumenting for volatility in electricity prices using weather forecast data. After deregulation, firms hold 20-25% more cash, ...

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