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Customer Risk from Real-Time Retail Electricity Pricing: Bill Volatility and Hedgability

  • Severin Borenstein

One of the most critical concerns that customers have voiced in the debate over real-time retail electricity pricing is that they would be exposed to risk from fluctuations in their electricity cost. The concern seems to be that a customer could find itself consuming a large quantity of power on the day that prices skyrocket, resulting in a high monthly bill. I analyze the magnitude of this risk, using demand data from 1142 large industrial customers, and then ask how much of this risk can be eliminated through various straightforward financial instruments. I find that very simple hedging strategiesÑforward purchase contracts that are already used with many RTP programsÑcan eliminate more than 80% of the bill volatility that would otherwise occur. I then show that a slightly more sophisticated application of these forward power purchases can significantly enhance their effect on reducing bill volatility.

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Article provided by International Association for Energy Economics in its journal The Energy Journal.

Volume (Year): Volume 28 (2007)
Issue (Month): Number 2 ()
Pages: 111-130

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Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:2007v28-02-a05
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  1. Gregory W. Brown & Klaus Bjerre Toft, 2002. "How Firms Should Hedge," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(4), pages 1283-1324.
  2. Severin Borenstein, 2007. "Wealth Transfers Among Large Customers from Implementing Real-Time Retail Electricity Pricing," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 131-150.
  3. Borenstein, Severin & Bushnell, James & Knittel, Chris & Wolfram, Catherine, 2008. "Inefficiencies and Market Power in Financial Arbitrage: A Study of California's Electricity Markets," Staff General Research Papers 13133, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. Ronald I. McKinnon, 1967. "Futures Markets, Buffer Stocks, and Income Stability for Primary Producers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 844.
  5. Severin Borenstein & Stephen Holland, 2005. "On the Efficiency of Competitive Electricity Markets with Time-Invariant Retail Prices," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(3), pages 469-493, Autumn.
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