2 October – 20 November 2019

Every Wednesday Evening

Institute of Directors, London

In association with the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Centre for Competition and Regulatory Policy at City, University of London

What are the Beesley Lectures?

Now in their twenty-eighth year, The Beesley Lectures were founded by Professor Michael Beesley, one of the most influential regulatory economists of his time. Held in partnership with the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Centre for Competition and Regulatory Policy at City, University of London, the series attracts the foremost thinkers in government, industry and academia.

The lectures address the latest developments in energy, water, transport, telecoms and banking regulation as well as competition policy. This year’s series comes at a time of political uncertainty which provides both an opportunity and a need for change.

The series attracted over 1000 attendees in 2018, including economists working for regulators, competition authorities, companies in regulated sectors or in consulting, as well as policy makers, academics and lawyers.

Evenings will begin at 6.30pm and delegates are encouraged to network over refreshments until 7pm, when the lecture will commence. A leading economist or industry figure will speak for one hour and a specialist will provide a 20-minute response before handing over to the audience for further discussion. Each lecture will end at 8.45pm followed by drinks and canapés to continue the discussion.

LECTURE 1 | 2 October

A critical appraisal of the role of energy suppliers in a technology-driven market

Lecturer
Mary Starks, Executive Director, Consumer and Markets Directorate, Ofgem

Respondent
Natasha Hobday, Group Policy and Regulation Director, Shell Energy

LECTURE 2 | 9 October

A new future for the public utilities under a Labour government

Lecturer
James Meadway, Former Economic Advisor to the Shadow Chancellor, Labour Party

Respondent
George Yarrow, Former Chair, Regulatory Policy Institute

LECTURE 3 | 16 October

Regulating the water industry by social contract

Lecturer
Rachel Fletcher, Chief Executive Officer Ofwat

Respondent
Julian Franks
, Professor of Finance, London Business School

LECTURE 4 | 23 October

Concluding the 40-year utilities experiment: death spirals or rebirth

Lecturer
Chris Harris, Head of Regulation, npower

Respondent
Catherine Mitchell, Professor of Energy Policy, University of Exeter

LECTURE 5 | 30 October

Protecting consumers and investors in an era of lower returns

Lecturer
Stephen Wright, Professor of Economics, Birckbeck University of London

Respondent
Nigel Hawkins, Utilities Analyst, Hardman & Co

LECTURE 6 | 6 November

How can innovation challenge capacity market design in the UK and beyond?

Lecturer
Sara Bell, Chief Executive Officer, Tempus Energy

Respondent
Paul Dawson,
Head of Regulatory Affairs, RWE

LECTURE 7 | 13 November

Applying economics to the internet: can regulators and competition authorities keep pace?

Lecturer
Oliver Bethell, Head of Competition EMEA, Google

Respondent
Mike Walker, Chief Economic Advisor, Competition and Markets Authority

LECTURE 8 | 20 November

Evaluating the framework for regulators in energy, water and telecoms

Lecturer
James Richardson, Chief Economist, National Infrastructure Commission

Respondent
Chris Bolt,
Senior Independent Non – Executive Director, Affinity Water

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Beesley Lecture Series 2019

Click between the tabs to view different Wednesday lectures

Lecture 1 | 2 October
Lecture 2 | 9 October
Lecture 3 | 16 October
Lecture 4 | 23 October
Lecture 5 | 30 October
Lecture 6 | 6 November
Lecture 7 | 13 November
Lecture 8 | 20 November
18.30

Networking over refreshments


19.00

A critical appraisal of the role of energy suppliers in a technology-driven market

Following a recent study Ofgem has concluded that the current regulatory arrangements governing the retail energy market may not be fit for purpose in the long term given the significant technological changes already affecting the sector. Programmes such as smart metering, half-hourly settlement and faster switching are already modernising the market, while technology advances including microgeneration, energy storage, electric vehicles and smart appliances will lead to new ways for consumers to engage with their energy supply.

How can future retail market design best unlock the full potential of innovation and competition?  How could the unbundling of functions from suppliers work in practice?  How can more seamless entry for innovative and disruptive propositions be enabled?  What alternative default arrangements for the disengaged will be required after the expiry of the default tariff cap.  How can vulnerable customers best be protected in a new market design?  Will energy become a service or will there be further commoditisation?  What will be the role of the tech giants as the market develops?


Lecturer

Mary Starks, Ofgem, Beesley Lectures
Mary Starks

Executive Director, Consumer and Markets Directorate , Ofgem

Respondent

Natasha Hobday, Shell Energy, Beesley Lectures
Natasha Hobday

Group Policy and Regulation Director , Shell Energy

20:45

Drinks and canapés


18:30

Networking over refreshments


19:00

A new future for the public utilities under a Labour government 

In its 2017 general election manifesto the Labour Party promised to return the water sector, rail, energy networks and Royal Mail to public ownership. In its May 2019 report Bringing Energy Home, it announced further details of its plans to bring energy and gas networks into state ownership, with the creation of a National Energy Agency to own and run transmission systems and regional energy agencies to own electricity and gas distribution.

How will Labour’s plans in each sector? How will the new form of public ownership differ from past experiences and what new opportunities will it create in each sector? What would be the cost and how would it be financed? How will democratic control interact with commercial objectives? How would future investment be financed and what would be the priorities of a new government? What opportunities would public ownership create in each sector? Will direct political control mean the end of economic regulation as we currently understand it?


Lecturer

James Meadway

Former Economic Advisor to the Shadow Chancellor , Labour Party

Respondent

George Yarrow, Beesley Lectures
George Yarrow

Former Chair , Regulatory Policy Institute

20:45

Drinks and canapés


18:30

Networking over refreshments


19:00

Regulating the water industry by social contract

Social contract theory goes back to the works of Hobbes and Rousseau and considers the role of government in peoples’ lives. We give up some of our freedom and autonomy in return for the protection of the state. Is there a case for regulation by social contract in the water sector? Concerns over financial management in the water industry have caused fundamental questions to be raised by politicians, academics and journalists about who should own water services, how they should be run and whose interests they serve. What could a social contract in the water sector look like? Can the existing regulatory structure be adapted to meet public concerns? What would the resulting role of the regulator be?


Lecturer

Rachel Fletcher, Ofwat, Beesley Lectures
Rachel Fletcher

Chief Executive Officer , Ofwat

Respondent

Julian Franks, London Business School, Beesley Lectures
Julian Franks

Professor of Finance , London Business School

20:45

Drinks and canapés


18:00

Networking over refreshments


19:00

Concluding the 40-year utilities experiment: death spirals or rebirth

The rise of decentralised generation opens networks up to the risk of death spirals as increasing network costs are shared between fewer people, incentivising further consumers to pursue alternatives including home generation. In particular vulnerable customers are less likely to change their network usage and so may be left bearing the higher costs. To what extent are suppliers at risk of death spirals too? As more engaged customers switch suppliers, the cost to serve those who are left increases leaving poor consumers paying more for their energy and mushrooming bad debt in the sector. Which death utilities death spirals present a real threat? Are some a foregone conclusion? How can they be avoided and vulnerable customers be protected?


Lecturer

Chris Harris RWE npower, Beesley Lectures
Chris Harris

Head of Regulation , npower

Respondent

Catherine Mitchell, University of Exeter, Beesley Lectures
Catherine Mitchell

Professor of Energy Policy , University of Exeter

20:45

Drinks and canapés


18:00

Networking over refreshments


19:00

Protecting consumers and investors in an era of lower returns

The current environment of low interest rates as well as recently elevated premiums over regulated asset values present a problem to UK regulators measuring the components of the weighted average cost of capital as they strive to find the balance between protecting the interests of existing and future consumers and ensuring that efficient firms can finance their operations. Regulated industries are bracing themselves for significant reductions in the WACC in a tough cycle of price reviews.

Industries are divided about how best to calculate the cost of capital and where the balance lies between customers and investors. To what extent is the way that the WACC is calculated effective? Over what time horizon should it be estimated? What account should be taken of leverage? Should a more dynamic system be considered in case of a significant change in interest rates?


Lecturer

Stephen Wright, Beesley Lectures, University of Birkbeck
Stephen Wright

Professor of Economics , Birckbeck, University of London

Respondent

Nigel Hawkins, Hardman & Co, Beesley Lectures
Nigel Hawkins

Utilities Analyst , Hardman & Co

20:45

Drinks and canapés


18:00

Networking over refreshments


19:00

How can innovation challenge capacity market design in the UK and beyond?

Coal was once the dominant fuel in power generation but the UK recently had its first week without it and it is set to be eliminated entirely from the generation mix by 2025. The first rounds of auctions under the UK capacity market led to significant wins for small scale diesel generators. In response the Government introduced a minimum tender size which weighted the system in favour of carbon heavy fossil fuel generators. Tempus Energy successfully challenged the European Commission’s state aid clearance on the grounds that it worked against European energy policy and carbon reduction targets. As a result, the scheme has been suspended and the market is currently clouded in uncertainty pending a detailed investigation by the European Commission which could take up to 18 months. How far can market design innovations go to resolve this situation? How can low carbon alternatives be incentivised so that any state aid meets European policy objectives? What lessons can be learnt beyond the UK?


Lecturer

Sara Bell, Tempus Energy, Beesley Lectures
Sara Bell

Chief Executive Officer , Tempus Energy

Respondent

Paul Dawson, Beesley Lectures
Paul Dawson

Head of Regulatory Affairs , RWE

20:45

Drinks and canapés


18:00

Networking over refreshments


19:00

Applying economics to the internet: can regulators and competition authorities keep pace?

Economies are changing dramatically as technology redesigns traditional business models. The razor edge of new technology development is not an idea that’s easily associated with regulation or Government but in the digital age, regulators and competition authorities must learn to keep pace both with the tech giants and rapidly changing consumer markets. There have been some tricky cases recently with regards to the internet as authorities seek to protect consumer interests but threaten the delivery of major advances for those same consumers. In order to strike a better balance, current regulation and competition policy must modernise and adapt to these changes. Is digital regulation inherently different? How different are digital markets? Should and can online content be regulated in the same way as offline? What changes should we expect in the UK as competition powers are transferred post Brexit? Digital advances are a major driver of economic opportunities and consumer benefits. How should regulation and competition policy adapt?


Lecturer

Oliver Bethnell, Beesley Lectures, Google
Oliver Bethell

Head of Competition EMEA , Google

Respondent

Mike Walker, Beesley Lectures
Mike Walker

Chief Economic Advisor , Competition and Markets Authority

20:45

Drinks and canapés


18:00

Networking over refreshments


19:00

Evaluating the framework for regulators in energy, water and telecomms

In the Future of Regulation Study commissioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the National Infrastructure Commission has assessed the changes which might be necessary to the existing regulatory framework future investment needs in infrastructure focusing on energy, telecoms and water, while promoting competition and innovation and meeting the needs of both current and future consumers.

Where have existing regulatory frameworks succeeded or failed in meeting these objectives? How do economic regulators need to adapt to meet the challenges in infrastructure outlined in the Commissions’s National Infrastructure Assessment? Has regulation adequately incentivised innovation and how has it responded to changing market circumstances? Is there a case for a multi-utility regulator to achieve greater consistency? Where should the boundary between government policy and independent regulation be set?


Lecturer

James Richardson, Beesley Lectures, National Infrastructure Commission
James Richardson

Chief Economist , National Infrastructure Commission

Respondent

Chris Bolt, Affinity Water, Beesley Lectures
Chris Bolt

Senior Independent Non-Executive Director , Affinity Water

20:45

Drinks and canapés


Speakers

Mary Starks, Ofgem, Beesley Lectures

Mary Starks

Executive Director, Consumer and Markets Directorate, Ofgem

James Meadway

Former Economic Advisor to the Shadow Chancellor, Labour Party

Rachel Fletcher, Ofwat, Beesley Lectures

Rachel Fletcher

Chief Executive Officer, Ofwat

Chris Harris RWE npower, Beesley Lectures

Chris Harris

Head of Regulation, npower

Stephen Wright, Beesley Lectures, University of Birkbeck

Stephen Wright

Professor of Economics, Birckbeck, University of London

Sara Bell, Tempus Energy, Beesley Lectures

Sara Bell

Chief Executive Officer, Tempus Energy

Oliver Bethnell, Beesley Lectures, Google

Oliver Bethell

Head of Competition EMEA, Google

James Richardson, Beesley Lectures, National Infrastructure Commission

James Richardson

Chief Economist, National Infrastructure Commission

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Institute of Directors, London

Institute of Directors, London

116 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5ED

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