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Wealth Transfers Among Large Customers from Implementing Real-Time Retail Electricity Pricing

Author

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  • Severin Borenstein

Abstract

Adoption of real-time electricity pricingÑretail prices that vary hourly to reflect changing wholesale prices removes existing cross-subsidies to those customers that consume disproportionately more when wholesale prices are highest. If their losses are substantial, these customers are likely to oppose RTP initiatives unless there is a supplemental program to offset their loss. Using data on a sample of 1142 large industrial and commercial customers in northern California, I show that RTP adoption would result in significant transfers compared to a flat-rate tariff. When compared to the time-of-use rates (simple peak/offpeak tariffs) that these customers already face, however, the transfers drop by up to 45%; even under the more extreme price volatility scenario that I examine, 90% of customers would see changes of between a 4% bill reduction and an 8% bill increase. Though customer price responsiveness reduces the loss incurred by those with high-cost demand profiles, I also demonstrate that this offsetting effect is unlikely to be large enough for most customers with costly demand patterns to completely offset their lost cross-subsidy. The analysis suggests that adoption of real-time pricing may be difficult without a supplemental program that compensates the customers who are made worse off by the change. I examine possible Òtwo-part RTPÓ programs, which allow customers to purchase a baseline quantity at regulated TOU rates, and show they can be used to greatly reduce the transfers associated with adoption of RTP.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:2007v28-02-a06
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Severin Borenstein & Stephen Holland, 2005. "On the Efficiency of Competitive Electricity Markets with Time-Invariant Retail Prices," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, pages 469-493.
    2. 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.
    3. 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 844-844.
    4. Christopher Knittel & Catherine Wolfram & James Bushnell & Severin Borenstein, 2006. "Inefficiencies and Market Power in Financial Arbitrage: A Study of California?s Electricity Markets," Working Papers 630, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    5. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Severin Borenstein, 2007. "Customer Risk from Real-Time Retail Electricity Pricing: Bill Volatility and Hedgability," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 111-130.
    2. Granell, Ramon & Axon, Colin J. & Wallom, David C.H., 2014. "Predicting winning and losing businesses when changing electricity tariffs," Applied Energy, Elsevier, pages 298-307.
    3. Allcott, Hunt, 2011. "Rethinking real-time electricity pricing," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 820-842.
    4. Kopsakangas Savolainen, Maria & Svento, Rauli, 2012. "Real-Time Pricing in the Nordic Power markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 1131-1142.
    5. repec:eee:eneeco:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:272-285 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. S. Borenstein, 2013. "Effective and Equitable Adoption of Opt-In Residential Dynamic Electricity Pricing," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 42(2), pages 127-160, March.
    7. Nijhuis, M. & Gibescu, M. & Cobben, J.F.G., 2015. "Assessment of the impacts of the renewable energy and ICT driven energy transition on distribution networks," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 1003-1014.
    8. Paul L. Joskow, 2012. "Creating a Smarter U.S. Electricity Grid," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(1), pages 29-48, Winter.
    9. repec:pal:jorsoc:v:68:y:2017:i:10:d:10.1057_s41274-016-0149-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Paul L. Joskow & Catherine D. Wolfram, 2012. "Dynamic Pricing of Electricity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 381-385, May.

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    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General

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