First Economics is an economic consultancy formed in 2004. We specialise in assisting companies, investors, regulators and government across the full range of economic and financial issues that are encountered in regulation. Our principal areas of expertise include:
- price control formulation;
- incentive design;
- cost of capital estimation;
- financial modelling;
- efficiency analysis; and
- competition analysis.
Our clients call on us to perform a variety of different advisory roles. In many cases, we are asked to provide specialist, independent reports to inform the debates between regulator and company. We usually combine this work with behind-the-scenes strategic advice and guidance, helping our clients to formulate their arguments and shape the evidence that they make available to external stakeholders. Our consultants have also been used in the past to reinforce clients' in-house teams, bringing their experience and expertise directly to the writing of consultation documents and responses.
We are active in all of the regulated sectors of the UK economy. We also work internationally on a growing number of regulatory issues overseas and have a respected transport policy practice. See below for some examples of our work and here for a list of our clients over the last three years.
We worked with several of the GB electricity distribution networks during Ofgem's recent RIIO-ED2 price control review. We previously advised the GB gas distribution networks and the GB transmission networks during Ofgem's RIIO-GD2 and RIIO-T2 price control reviews, as well as the subsequent appeals to the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA).
We also act as an adviser the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation across its work with the Northern Ireland electricity and gas companies, and worked alongside the CMA during its inquiry into the workings of Britain's energy retail market.
First Economics is currently helping the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) during the H7 reviews of price control arrangements at Heathrow Airport. We had a similar role during the Q5 and Q6 reviews.
We are also advising the CAA on the NR23 review of NATS' price controls.
In the rail sector, we act as advisers to the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). Many of Britain's train operators also attend our Owner Group Forum.
In recent months, we have been working with ORR on the regulation of Network Rail, assisted RDG during several government reviews of the rail industry, and advised the DfT on competition in the rolling stock leasing market. We have also helped individual companies understand and apply track access pricing rules.
We have worked with all of the ten water and sewerage companies in England & Wales, as well as Ofwat, Scottish Water and the NI Utility Regulator as part of its oversight of NI Water.
Much of our work during the last few years focused on Ofwat's PR19 price review and the ensuing CMA inquiries. We are now turning to the early preparations for the PR24 price review.
We were recently appointed by Royal Mail as an expert witness in a Competition Appeals Tribunal case.
We acted as adviser to the Competition Commission in five of the most recent price control appeals which were referred to the Commission by the UK’s Competition Appeals Tribunal.
We worked with the Office of Rail and Road as it undertook its first efficiency review of Highways England.
Public Private Partnerships
We advised Tube Lines, one of the infracos that was formed as part of the London Underground public-private partnership, as it underwent its first ever periodic review.
Outside of the UK, we have been helping a number of clients during periodic reviews and, more fundamentally, in setting up regulatory regimes for the first time. For example, we have acted advisers to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore during its reviews of the price cap at Changi Airport. In Australia and New Zealand, our experts have prepared reports on issues relating to the estimation of the cost of capital. And in Malaysia, we have helped one of the country's energy companies during the implementation of a new form of incentive-based regulation.
First Economics has a highly respected training team. We are the appointed trainers for the UK Regulators Network's (UKRN's) Introduction to Economic Regulation and Cost of Capital Estimation training courses. We also regularly provide bespoke training courses for government bodies, regulators and regulated companies.