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 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. 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 each of the component indicators (figure 2).

Figure 2 Getting electricity: obtaining an electricity connection

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 and the electricity connection 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 (see cities list).
  • 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 2 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 refrigerated goods.

Assumptions about the electricity connection

The electricity connection:

  • Is a permanent one.
  • Is a 3-phase, 4-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 0.07 gigawatt-hours (GWh).
  • 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.


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 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 also assumed that the minimum time required for each procedure is 1 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 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 5 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-2013 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 5 years assumed to be the length of the contract. If both options exist, the cheaper alternative is recorded.

In Honduras in June 2014 a customer requesting a 140-kVA electricity connection would have had to put up a security deposit of 118,434 Honduran lempiras (L) 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 20.08%. Over the 5 years of the contract this would imply a present value of lost interest earnings of L 70,998.58. 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 5 years would be just L 14,804.30.