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Merchant Transmission Investment

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  • Paul Joskow
  • Jean Tirole

Abstract

We examine the performance attributes of a merchant transmission investment framework that relies on “market driven” transmission investment to provide the infrastructure to support competitive wholesale markets for electricity. Under a stringent set of assumptions, the merchant investment model has a remarkable set of attributes that appear to solve the natural monopoly problem and the associated need for regulating transmission companies traditionally associated with electric transmission networks. We expand the merchant model upon which these conclusions are based to incorporate imperfections in wholesale electricity markets, lumpiness in transmission investment opportunities, stochastic attributes of transmission networks and associated property rights definition issues, the effects of the behavior of system operators and transmission owners on transmission capacity and reliability, coordination and bargaining considerations, forward contract, commitment and asset specificity issues. Incorporating these more realistic attributes of transmission networks and the behavior of transmission owners and system operators significantly undermines the attractive properties of the merchant investment model. Relying primarily on a market driven investment framework to govern investment in electric transmission networks is likely to lead to inefficient investment decisions and undermine the performance of competitive markets for electricity. A significant research challenge is to design regulatory mechanisms for system operators and incumbent transmission owners and a better framework for defining transmission property rights that will stimulate efficient investments by regulated incumbent transmission owners and by merchant entrants responding to market opportunities when they are the most efficient suppliers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research in its series Working Papers with number 0304.

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Date of creation: Feb 2003
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Handle: RePEc:mee:wpaper:0304

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  1. Vogelsang, Ingo, 2001. "Price Regulation for Independent Transmission Companies," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 141-65, September.
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  8. Joshua S. Gans & Stephen P. King, 2000. "Options for Electricity Transmission Regulation in Australia," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 33(2), pages 145-160.
  9. Bushnell, James B & Stoft, Steven E, 1996. "Electric Grid Investment under a Contract Network Regime," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 61-79, July.
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  13. Glachant, Jean-Michel & Pignon, Virginie, 2005. "Nordic congestion's arrangement as a model for Europe? Physical constraints vs. economic incentives," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 153-162, June.
  14. Green, Richard, 1999. "The Electricity Contract Market in England and Wales," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 107-24, March.
  15. Hogan, William W, 1992. "Contract Networks for Electric Power Transmission," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 211-42, September.
  16. Steven Stoft, 1999. "Financial Transmission Rights Meet Cournot: How TCCs Curb Market Power," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 1-23.
  17. Shmuel S. Oren, 1997. "Economic Inefficiency of Passive Transmission Rights in Congested Electricity Systems with Competitive Generation," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 63-83.
  18. Wu, Felix, et al, 1996. "Folk Theorems on Transmission Access: Proofs and Counterexamples," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 5-23, July.
  19. Joskow, Paul L & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "Transmission Rights and Market Power on Electric Power Networks I: Financial Rights," CEPR Discussion Papers 2093, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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