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Understanding Strategic Bidding in Restructured Electricity Markets: A Case Study of ERCOT

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  • Ali Hortacsu
  • Steven L. Puller

Abstract

We examine the bidding behavior of firms competing on ERCOT, the hourly electricity balancing market in Texas. We characterize an equilibrium model of bidding into this uniform-price divisible-good auction market. Using detailed firm-level data on bids and marginal costs of generation, we find that firms with large stakes in the market performed close to theoretical benchmarks of static, profit-maximizing bidding derived from our model. However, several smaller firms utilized excessively steep bid schedules that deviated significantly from our theoretical benchmarks, in a manner that could not be empirically accounted for by the presence of technological adjustment costs, transmission constraints, or collusive behavior. Our results suggest that payoff scale matters in firms' willingness and ability to participate in complex, strategic market environments. Finally, although smaller firms moved closer to theoretical bidding benchmarks over time, their bidding patterns contributed to productive inefficiency in this newly restructured market, along with efficiency losses due to the close-to optimal exercise of market power by larger firms.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11123.

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Date of creation: Feb 2005
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Publication status: published as Hortacsu, Ali and Steven Puller. “Understanding Strategic Bidding in Multi-Unit Auctions: A Case Study of the Texas Electricity Spot Market.” RAND Journal of Economics 39 (Spring 2008): 86-114.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11123

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  1. Severin Borenstein & James B. Bushnell & Frank A. Wolak, 2002. "Measuring Market Inefficiencies in California's Restructured Wholesale Electricity Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1376-1405, December.
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  8. von der Fehr, Nils-Henrik Morch & Harbord, David, 1993. "Spot Market Competition in the UK Electricity Industry," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(418), pages 531-46, May.
  9. Klemperer, Paul, 2000. "Why every Economist should Learn some Auction Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 2572, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  14. Wilson, Robert, 1979. "Auctions of Shares," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 675-89, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Pirrong, Craig & Jermakyan, Martin, 2008. "The price of power: The valuation of power and weather derivatives," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(12), pages 2520-2529, December.
  2. Ali Hortacsu & Samita Sareen, 2005. "Order Flow and the Formation of Dealer Bids: Information Flows and Strategic Behavior in the Government of Canada Securities Auctions," NBER Working Papers 11116, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Georg Zachmann, 2007. "A Markov Switching Model of the Merit Order to Compare British and German Price Formation," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 714, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  4. Elizabeth Armington & Eric Emch & Ken Heyer, 2006. "The Year in Review: Economics at the Antitrust Division, 2005–2006," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 305-326, December.

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