The Guy at the Controls: Labor Quality and Power Plant Efficiency
This paper examines the impact of individual human operators on the fuel efficiency of power plants. Although electricity generation is a fuel and capital intensive enterprise, anecdotal evidence, interviews, and empirical analysis support the hypothesis that labor, particularly power plant operators, can have a non-trivial impact on the operating efficiency of the plant. We present evidence to demonstrate these effects and survey the policies and practices of electricity producing firms that either reduce or exacerbate fuel efficiency differences across individual plant operators.
This research was generously supported by the Sloan Foundation-NBER International Productivity Project. We are grateful to Rob Letzler, Amol Phadke and Jenny Shanefelter for excellent research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
The Guy at the Controls: Labor Quality and Power Plant Efficiency, James B. Bushnell, Catherine Wolfram. in International Differences in the Business Practices and Productivity of Firms, Freeman and Shaw. 2009