October 13th, 2:30-4pm, E62-346

The Economic and Environmental Effects of Infrastructure Improvements: Evidence from Pakistan’s Electricity Sector

Speaker: Robyn Meeks (Duke)

Seminar title: “The Economic and Environmental Effects of Infrastructure Improvements: Evidence from Pakistan’s Electricity Sector”

Date/Time: October 13th, 2:30-4pm EST

Location: E62-346


Fiscal challenges pervade the electricity sector in many developing countries. Low bill payment and high theft mean that utility customers do not pay the official tariff rate, leading distribution companies to ration supply via load shedding. The resulting low quality electricity services can impair economic benefits from connections to the electrical grid. Using differences in intervention timing across space, we study the impacts of an infrastructure intervention that made illegal electricity connections physically more difficult in Karachi, Pakistan. We find that the installation of aerial bundled cables reduced non-technical losses and increased revenue recovery, due to an increase in formal utility customers and greater billed consumption among the existing formal customers. The intervention led to lower electricity delivered to the distribution system, a proxy for generation, which translates into a reduction in CO2 emissions that is 1.7 % and 4.3% of the electricity utility’s annual emissions. Changes in consumer surplus vary depending on the cost previously paid for illegal grid connections.

Download Seminar Working Paper


Robyn Meeks
Robyn Meeks is an Assistant Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, a faculty affiliate of the Duke Center for International Development, a member of the Faculty Advisory Committee of Duke University’s Energy Access Project, and a research affiliate of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT. Her research is at the intersection of environmental and development economics with much of her work focusing on understanding individual, household, and firm responses to the introduction of various water and energy technologies, policies, and types of infrastructure in developing countries. Much of this work relates to and informs climate and development policies.