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How to allocate forward contracts: The case of electricity markets


  • de Frutos, María-Ángeles
  • Fabra, Natalia


Several regulatory authorities worldwide have imposed forward contract commitments on electricity producers as a way to mitigate their market power. In this paper we analyze the impact of such commitments on equilibrium outcomes in a model that reflects important institutional and structural features of electricity markets. We show that, when firms are asymmetric, the distribution of contracts among firms matters. In the case of a single dominant firm, the regulator can be confident that allocating contracts to that firm will be pro-competitive. However, when asymmetries are less extreme, certain contract allocations might yield anti-competitive outcomes by eliminating more competitive equilibria. Our analysis thus suggests that forward contracts should be allocated so as to (virtually) reduce asymmetries across firms.

Suggested Citation

  • de Frutos, María-Ángeles & Fabra, Natalia, 2012. "How to allocate forward contracts: The case of electricity markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 451-469.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:56:y:2012:i:3:p:451-469 DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2011.11.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Boom, Anette & Buehler, Stefan, 2014. "Restructuring the Electricity Industry: Vertical Structure and the Risk of Rent Extraction," Working Papers 02-2014, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics.
    2. David P. Brown & Andrew Eckert, 2017. "Electricity market mergers with endogenous forward contracting," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 269-310, June.
    3. Bruno Bosco, Lucia Parisio and Matteo Pelagatti, 2016. "Price coordination in vertically integrated electricity markets. Theory and empirical evidence," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1).
    4. Holmberg, Pär & Willems, Bert, 2015. "Relaxing competition through speculation: Committing to a negative supply slope," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PA), pages 236-266.
    5. Di Cosmo, Valeria & Lynch, Muireann Á., 2016. "Competition and the single electricity market: Which lessons for Ireland?," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 40-47.
    6. Grossi, Luigi & Heim, Sven & Waterson, Michael, 2014. "A vision of the European energy future? The impact of the German response to the Fukushima earthquake," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1047, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    7. Federico, Giulio & López, Ángel L., 2013. "Optimal asset divestments with homogeneous products," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 12-25.
    8. Curtis, John & Devitt, Niamh & di Cosmo, Valeria & Farrell, Niall & FitzGerald, John & Hyland, Marie & Lynch, Muireann & Lyons, Sean & McCoy, Daire & Malaguzzi Valeri, Laura & Walsh, Darragh, 2014. "Irish Energy Policy: An Analysis of Current Issues," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number rs37 edited by FitzGerald, John & Malaguzzi Valeri, Laura.
    9. Brown, David P. & Eckert, Andrew & Eckert, Heather, 2017. "Carbon Pricing with an Output Subsidy under Imperfect Competition: The Case of Alberta's Restructured Electricity Market," Working Papers 2017-1, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    10. Brown, David P. & Eckert, Andrew, 2016. "Analyzing the Impact of Electricity Market Structure Changes and Mergers: The Importance of Forward Commitments," Working Papers 2016-8, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    11. Dressler, Luisa, 2016. "Support schemes for renewable electricity in the European Union: Producer strategies and competition," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 186-196.
    12. repec:kap:revind:v:52:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11151-017-9580-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Walsh, Darragh & Malaguzzi Valeri, Laura & Di Cosmo, Valeria, 2016. "Strategic bidding, wind ownership and regulation in a decentralised electricity market," MPRA Paper 71502, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Bosco, Bruno & Parisio, Lucia & Pelagatti, Matteo, 2013. "Price-capping in partially monopolistic electricity markets with an application to Italy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 257-266.
    15. Serra, Pablo, 2013. "Contract market power and its impact on the efficiency of the electricity sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 653-662.

    More about this item


    Forward contracts; Discrete supply functions; Electricity markets; Antitrust remedies; Simulations;

    JEL classification:

    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing


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