Non-payment for electricity is holding back a global push to extend electricity access to the 1.2 billion people off the grid. India, Ghana, Myanmar, Uganda—countries around the world are raising electrification rates with the goal of powering future economic growth. The success of these efforts will depend on whether the companies that supply power, typically state-run electricity distribution monopolies, are willing and able to pay for energy for the poor people they connect. Yet distribution companies across the developing world are chronically loss-making and often cannot collect on the energy they supply, due to agency problems and theft. Consequently, they provide rationed, erratic supply, which undercuts the economic value of power.

Through large-scale field experiment in Bihar, on how to efficiently collect electricity revenue through public agents. The outcomes are measured as changes in revenue, customer service, and electricity supply quality and introduce a new revealed-preference field measure of customer-employee collusion.

This project is supported by the Tata Centre for Development at UChicago.

Project Partners

Tata Centre for Development at UChicago

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The Tata Centre for Development at UChicago develops innovative, integrated approaches to tackling some of India’s most pressing development issues. With generous support from the Tata Trusts, the Tata Centre combines implementation, research and executive education to execute ambitious pilots, evaluate new solutions, and spread insights to key decision-makers who can translate research findings and successful pilots into wider impact. The Centre is housed at the Harris School of Public Policy in Chicago and the University of Chicago Trust in India.

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

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The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) was established in 2003 as a research center at MIT’s Department of Economics. Since then, it has built a global network of 113 affiliated professors and regional offices in Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. J-PAL’s mission is to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. It does this by working with governments, non-profits, foundations and other development organizations to conduct rigorous impact evaluations in the field, policy outreach to widely disseminate the lessons from research, and building the capacity of practitioners to generate and use evidence. Over 200 million people have been reached by the scale-up of programs evaluated by J-PAL and found to be effective. Find J-PAL on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

North Bihar Power Distribution Company

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South Bihar Power Distribution Company

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South Bihar Power Distribution Company Ltd(SBPDCL) has beengiven the status of a Distribution Licensee as per Section 14 of the ElectricityAct 2003 and engaged primarily in the business of distribution of Electricity andis serving more than 18 lacs consumers in 17 districts of South Bihar. Presently, we are providing uninterrupted power supply in PESU, Area, Patna i.eCapital of Bihar and also providing 18-20 Hrs assured powersupply in the entire17 district HQ of South Bihar.