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A Quantitative Analysis of Pricing Behavior in California's Wholesale Electricity Market During Summer 2000

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  • Paul Joskow
  • Edward Kahn

Abstract

We simulate competitive benchmark wholesale prices for electricity in California during the summer of 2000, taking account of changes in natural gas prices, electricity demand, and imports of electricity from other states during this time period. We also examine the impact of changes in the prices of NOx emissions permits on estimated competitive benchmark prices for electricity. The competitive benchmark prices are then compared to actual prices. A significant fraction of the changes in wholesale electricity prices in California during Summer 2000 can be explained by these four factors. The impact of higher NOx permit prices, and their interaction with reduced imports into California, have a particularly large impact on competitive benchmark prices. However, during June, July and August a large unexplained difference between actual prices and competitive benchmark prices remains. We tentatively attribute this difference to supplier market power and related market imperfections. We then examine whether there is evidence of strategic behavior by suppliers during the highest priced hours during the summer. Evidence of supply withholding --- exercise of market power --- during these hours is identified.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8157.

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Date of creation: Mar 2001
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Publication status: published as Joskow, Paul L. and Edward Kahn. "A Quantitative Analysis Of Pricing Behavior In California's Wholesale Electricity Market During Summer 2000," Energy Journal, 2002, v23(4), 1-36.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8157

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  1. Borenstein, Severin & Bushnell, James, 1999. "An Empirical Analysis of the Potential for Market Power in California's Electricity Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(3), pages 285-323, September.
  2. Catherine D. Wolfram, 1999. "Measuring Duopoly Power in the British Electricity Spot Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 805-826, September.
  3. Ellerman,A. Denny & Joskow,Paul L. & Schmalensee,Richard & Montero,Juan-Pablo & Bailey,Elizabeth M., 2000. "Markets for Clean Air," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521660839, October.
    • Ellerman,A. Denny & Joskow,Paul L. & Schmalensee,Richard & Montero,Juan-Pablo & Bailey,Elizabeth M., 2005. "Markets for Clean Air," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521023894, October.
  4. Severin Borenstein & James Bushnell & Frank Wolak, 2000. "Diagnosing Market Power in California's Restructured Wholesale Electricity Market," NBER Working Papers 7868, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Joskow, P.L., 1989. "Regulatory Failure, Regulatory Reform And Structural Change In The Electric Power Industry," Working papers 516, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Bushnell, James & Wolfram, Catherine, 2008. "Electricity Markets," Staff General Research Papers 31547, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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