Getting Electricity Methodology

Figure 1 - Doing Business measures the connection process at the level of distribution utilities

Doing Business records all procedures required for a business to obtain a permanent electricity connection and supply for a standardized warehouse (figure 1). These procedures include applications and contracts with electricity utilities, all necessary inspections and clearances from the distribution utility and other agencies, and the external and final connection works. The questionnaire divides the process of getting an electricity connection into distinct procedures and solicits data for calculating the time and cost to complete each procedure.

In addition, this year Doing Business adds two new measures: the reliability of supply and transparency of tariffs index (included in the aggregate distance to frontier score and ranking on the ease of doing business) and the price of electricity (omitted from these aggregate measures). The reliability of supply and transparency of tariffs index encompasses quantitative data on the duration and frequency of power outages as well as qualitative information on the mechanisms put in place by the utility for monitoring power outages and restoring power supply, the reporting relationship between the utility and the regulator for power outages, the transparency and accessibility of tariffs and whether the utility faces a financial deterrent aimed at limiting outages (such as a requirement to compensate customers or pay fines when outages exceed a certain cap).

Figure 2 - Getting electricity: efficiency, reliability and transparency

The ranking of economies on the ease of getting electricity is determined by sorting their distance to frontier scores for getting electricity. These scores are the simple average of the distance to frontier scores for all the component indicators except the price of electricity (figure 2).

Data are collected from the electricity distribution utility, then completed and verified by electricity regulatory agencies and independent professionals such as electrical engineers, electrical contractors and construction companies. The electricity distribution utility consulted is the one serving the area (or areas) where warehouses are located. If there is a choice of distribution utilities, the one serving the largest number of customers is selected.

To make the data comparable across economies, several assumptions about the warehouse, the electricity connection and the monthly consumption are used.

Assumptions about the warehouse

The warehouse:

  • Is owned by a local entrepreneur.
  • Is located in the economy’s largest business city. For 11 economies the data are also collected for the second largest business city.
  • Is located in an area where similar warehouses are typically located. In this area a new electricity connection is not eligible for a special investment promotion regime (offering special subsidization or faster service, for example).
  • Is located in an area with no physical constraints. For example, the property is not near a railway.
  • Is a new construction and is being connected to electricity for the first time.
  • Has two stories, both above ground, with a total surface area of approximately 1,300.6 square meters (14,000 square feet). The plot of land on which it is built is 929 square meters (10,000 square feet).
  • Is used for storage of goods.

Assumptions about the electricity connection

The electricity connection:

  • Is a permanent one.
  • Is a three-phase, four-wire Y, 140-kilovolt-ampere (kVA) (subscribed capacity) connection (where the voltage is 120/208 V, the current would be 400 amperes; where it is 230/400 B, the current would be nearly 200 amperes).
  • Is 150 meters long. The connection is to either the low-voltage or the medium-voltage distribution network and either overhead or underground, whichever is more common in the area where the warehouse is located.
  • Requires works that involve the crossing of a 10-meter road (such as by excavation or overhead lines) but are all carried out on public land. There is no crossing of other owners’ private property because the warehouse has access to a road.
  • Includes only a negligible length in the customer’s private domain.
  • Will supply monthly electricity consumption of 26,880 kilowatt-hours (kWh).
  • Does not involve work to install the internal electrical wiring. This has already been completed, up to and including the customer’s service panel or switchboard and installation of the meter base.

Assumptions about the monthly consumption

  • The warehouse operates daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (not for 24 hours), without electricity cuts (assumed for simplicity), and has a subscribed capacity of 140 kVA, a power factor of 1 (1 kVA = 1 kW) and a monthly consumption of 26,880 kWh. The warehouse is operated for commercial purposes 30 days a month. The hourly consumption is therefore 112 kWh (26,880 kWh/30 days/8 hours).
  • If multiple electricity suppliers exist, the warehouse is served by the cheapest supplier.
  • Tariffs effective in March of the current year are used for calculation of the price of electricity for the warehouse.

Procedures

A procedure is defined as any interaction of the company’s employees or its main electrician or electrical engineer (that is, the one who may have done the internal wiring) with external parties, such as the electricity distribution utility, electricity supply utilities, government agencies, electrical contractors and electrical firms. Interactions between company employees and steps related to the internal electrical wiring, such as the design and execution of the internal electrical installation plans, are not counted as procedures. Procedures that must be completed with the same utility but with different departments are counted as separate procedures (table 1).

Table 1 - What do the getting electricity indicators measure?

The company’s employees are assumed to complete all procedures themselves unless the use of a third party is mandated (for example, if only an electrician registered with the utility is allowed to submit an application). If the company can, but is not required to, request the services of professionals (such as a private firm rather than the utility for the external works), these procedures are recorded if they are commonly done. For all procedures only the most likely cases (for example, more than 50% of the time the utility has the material) and those followed in practice for connecting a warehouse to electricity are counted.

Time

Time is recorded in calendar days. The measure captures the median duration that the electricity utility and experts indicate is necessary in practice, rather than required by law, to complete a procedure with minimum follow-up and no extra payments. It is assumed that the minimum time required for each procedure is one day. Although procedures may take place simultaneously, they cannot start on the same day (that is, simultaneous procedures start on consecutive days). It is assumed that the company does not waste time and commits to completing each remaining procedure without delay. The time that the company spends on gathering information is not taken into account. It is assumed that the company is aware of all electricity connection requirements and their sequence from the beginning.

Cost

Cost is recorded as a percentage of the economy’s income per capita. Costs are recorded exclusive of value added tax. All the fees and costs associated with completing the procedures to connect a warehouse to electricity are recorded, including those related to obtaining clearances from government agencies, applying for the connection, receiving inspections of both the site and the internal wiring, purchasing material, getting the actual connection works and paying a security deposit. Information from local experts and specific regulations and fee schedules are used as sources for costs. If several local partners provide different estimates, the median reported value is used. In all cases the cost excludes bribes.

Security deposit

Utilities require security deposits as a guarantee against the possible failure of customers to pay their consumption bills. For this reason the security deposit for a new customer is most often calculated as a function of the customer’s estimated consumption.

Doing Business does not record the full amount of the security deposit. If the deposit is based on the customer’s actual consumption, this basis is the one assumed in the case study. Rather than the full amount of the security deposit, Doing Business records the present value of the losses in interest earnings experienced by the customer because the utility holds the security deposit over a prolonged period, in most cases until the end of the contract (assumed to be after five years). In cases where the security deposit is used to cover the first monthly consumption bills, it is not recorded. To calculate the present value of the lost interest earnings, the end-2014 lending rates from the International Monetary Fund’s International Financial Statistics are used. In cases where the security deposit is returned with interest, the difference between the lending rate and the interest paid by the utility is used to calculate the present value.

In some economies the security deposit can be put up in the form of a bond: the company can obtain from a bank or an insurance company a guarantee issued on the assets it holds with that financial institution. In contrast to the scenario in which the customer pays the deposit in cash to the utility, in this scenario the company does not lose ownership control over the full amount and can continue using it. In return the company will pay the bank a commission for obtaining the bond. The commission charged may vary depending on the credit standing of the company. The best possible credit standing and thus the lowest possible commission are assumed. Where a bond can be put up, the value recorded for the deposit is the annual commission times the five years assumed to be the length of the contract. If both options exist, the cheaper alternative is recorded.

In Honduras in June 2015 a customer requesting a 140-kVA electricity connection would have had to put up a security deposit of 126,894 Honduran lempiras ($6,025) in cash or check, and the deposit would have been returned only at the end of the contract. The customer could instead have invested this money at the prevailing lending rate of 20.61%. Over the five years of the contract this would imply a present value of lost interest earnings of 77,174.76 lempiras ($3,664). In contrast, if the customer chose to settle the deposit with a bank guarantee at an annual rate of 2.5%, the amount lost over the five years would be just 15,861.75 lempiras ($753).

Reliability of supply and transparency of tariffs index

Doing Business uses the system average interruption duration index (SAIDI) and the system average interruption frequency index (SAIFI) to measure the duration and frequency of power outages in the largest business city of each economy (for 11 economies the data are also collected for the second largest business city; see table 13A.1). SAIDI is the average total duration of outages over the course of a year for each customer served, while SAIFI is the average number of service interruptions experienced by a customer in a year. Annual data (covering the calendar year) are collected from distribution utility companies and national regulators on SAIDI and SAIFI. Both SAIDI and SAIFI estimates include load shedding.

An economy is eligible to obtain a score on the reliability of supply and transparency of tariffs index if the utility collects data on electricity outages (measuring the average total duration of outages per customer and the average number of outages per customer) and the SAIDI value is below a threshold of 100 hours and the SAIFI value below a threshold of 100 outages.

Because the focus is on measuring the reliability of the electricity supply in each economy’s largest business city (and, in 11 economies, also in the second largest business city), an economy is not eligible to obtain a score on the index if data on power outages are not collected. Nor is an economy eligible to obtain a score if outages are too frequent or long-lasting for the electricity supply to be considered reliable—that is, if the SAIDI value exceeds the threshold of 100 hours or the SAIFI value exceeds the threshold of 100 outages.(1).

For all economies that meet the criteria as determined by Doing Business, a score on the reliability of supply and transparency of tariffs index is calculated on the basis of the following six components:

  • What the SAIDI and SAIFI values are. If SAIDI and SAIFI are below 12 (equivalent to an outage of one hour each month), a score of 1 is assigned. If SAIDI and SAIFI are below 4 (equivalent to an outage of one hour each quarter), 1 additional point is assigned. Finally, if SAIDI and SAIFI are below 1 (equivalent to an outage of one hour per year), 1 more point is assigned.
  • What tools are used by the distribution utility to monitor power outages. A score of 1 is assigned if the utility uses automated tools, such as the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system; 0 if it relies solely on calls from customers and records and monitors outages manually.
  • What tools are used by the distribution utility to restore power supply. A score of 1 is assigned if the utility uses automated tools, such as the SCADA system; 0 if it relies solely on manual resources for service restoration, such as field crews or maintenance personnel.
  • Whether a regulator—that is, an entity separate from the utility—monitors the utility’s performance on reliability of supply. A score of 1 is assigned if the regulator performs periodic or real-time reviews; 0 if it does not monitor power outages and does not require the utility to report on reliability of supply.
  • Whether financial deterrents exist to limit outages. A score of 1 is assigned if the utility compensates customers when outages exceed a certain cap, if the utility is fined by the regulator when outages exceed a certain cap or if both these conditions are met; 0 if no compensation mechanism of any kind is available.
  • Whether electricity tariffs are transparent and easily available. A score of 1 is assigned if effective tariffs are available online and customers are notified of a change in tariff ahead of the next billing cycle; 0 if not.

The index ranges from 0 to 8, with higher values indicating greater reliability of electricity supply and greater transparency of tariffs. In the Czech Republic, for example, the distribution utility company PREdistribuce uses SAIDI and SAIFI metrics to monitor and collect data on power outages. In 2014 the average total duration of power outages in Prague was 0.53 hours per customer and the average number of outages experienced by a customer was 0.27. Both SAIDI and SAIFI are below the threshold and indicate that there was less than one outage a year per customer, for a total duration of less than one hour. So the economy not only meets the eligibility criteria for obtaining a score on the index, it also receives a score of 3 on the first component of the index. The utility uses an automated system (SCADA) to identify faults in the network (a score of 1) and restore electricity service (a score of 1). The national regulator actively reviews the utility’s performance in providing reliable electricity service (a score of 1) and requires the utility to compensate customers if outages last longer than a maximum period defined by the regulator (a score of 1). Customers are notified of a change in tariffs ahead of the next billing cycle and can easily check effective tariffs online (a score of 1). Adding these numbers gives the Czech Republic a score of 8 on the reliability of supply and transparency of tariffs index.

On the other hand, several economies receive a score of 0 on the reliability of supply and transparency of tariffs index. The reason may be that outages occur more than once a month and none of the mechanisms and tools measured by the index are in place. An economy may also receive a score of 0 if either the SAIDI or SAIFI value (or both) exceeds the threshold of 100. For Mali, for example, the SAIDI value (168) exceeds the threshold. Based on the criteria established, Mali cannot receive a score on the index even though the country has regulatory monitoring of outages and there is a compensation mechanism for customers.

Price of electricity

Doing Business measures the price of electricity but does not include these data when calculating the distance to frontier score for getting electricity or the ranking on the ease of getting electricity. The data on electricity prices are based on standardized assumptions to ensure comparability across economies.

The price of electricity is measured in cents per kilowatt-hour. On the basis of the assumptions about monthly consumption, a monthly bill for a commercial warehouse in the largest business city of the economy is computed for the month of March (for 11 economies the data are also collected for the second largest business city; see table 13A.1). As noted, the warehouse uses electricity 30 days a month, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., so different tariff schedules may apply if a time-of-use tariff is available.

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1. According to a study by Chakravorty, Pelli and Marchand (2014) based on evidence from India between 1994 and 2005, a higher-quality electricity supply, with no more than two outages a week (or no more than about 100 a year), leads to higher nonagricultural incomes.