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Resource adequacy reliability and the impacts of capacity subsidies in competitive electricity markets


  • Briggs, R.J.
  • Kleit, Andrew


Motivated by recent interventions by the states of New Jersey and Maryland and the introduction of PJM's Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) for capacity markets, we analyze the impact of subsidized government investments in electrical generation on electricity markets. We extend the model of Joskow and Tirole (2007) to address the interconnected nature of the PJM grid by considering a market with two different locations connected by transmission lines. We assume that these lines are constrained during peak periods in a manner similar to Borenstein et al. (2000). We find that government intervention has a significant potential for adverse effects on grid resource adequacy and reliability. In our analysis, subsidized investment in baseload capacity is never optimal. In the short run government provision of base capacity displaces competitive base capacity, which reduces the private provision of peak capacity. In the long run, the threat of intervention imposes costs on suppliers in the form of an expected regulatory taking. As a result, resource adequacy decreases in both markets. If governments respond to this state of affairs by subsidizing further supply additions, expectations of intervention are reinforced and competitive capacity supply further diminishes. MOPR attempts to mitigate this vicious cycle by screening out non-economic bids for new capacity. To the extent market participants view MOPR as a credible policy, it succeeds in this goal. In this case, subsidized capacity additions do not perturb the efficiency of market outcomes as long as any charges to consumers to support the subsidy are lump sum in nature. In this case, subsidized resources simply succeed in capturing rents from taxpayers.

Suggested Citation

  • Briggs, R.J. & Kleit, Andrew, 2013. "Resource adequacy reliability and the impacts of capacity subsidies in competitive electricity markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 297-305.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eneeco:v:40:y:2013:i:c:p:297-305
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eneco.2013.07.009

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul Joskow & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Retail electricity competition," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(4), pages 799-815, December.
    2. Paul Joskow & Jean Tirole, 2007. "Reliability and competitive electricity markets," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(1), pages 60-84, March.
    3. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton, 2004. "Auctioning Many Divisible Goods," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 480-493, 04/05.
    4. Severin Borenstein & James. Bushnell & Steven Stoft, 2000. "The Competitive Effects of Transmission Capacity in A Deregulated Electricity Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(2), pages 294-325, Summer.
    5. Cramton, Peter & Stoft, Steven, 2005. "A Capacity Market that Makes Sense," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 18(7), pages 43-54.
    6. Cramton, Peter & Stoft, Steven, 2007. "Why We Need to Stick with Uniform-Price Auctions in Electricity Markets," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 26-37.
    7. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:i:4:p:799-815 is not listed on IDEAS
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    2. Coester, Andreas & Hofkes, Marjan W. & Papyrakis, Elissaios, 2018. "An optimal mix of conventional power systems in the presence of renewable energy: A new design for the German electricity market," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 312-322.
    3. Lin, Boqiang & He, Jiaxin, 2017. "Is biomass power a good choice for governments in China?," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 1218-1230.
    4. Gerard Llobet and Jorge Padilla, 2018. "Conventional Power Plants in Liberalized Electricity Markets with Renewable Entry," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3).
    5. Sylwia Bialek & Burcin Unel, 2020. "Efficiency in Wholesale Electricity Markets: On the Role of Externalities and Subsidies," CESifo Working Paper Series 8673, CESifo.
    6. Brown, David P., 2018. "The effect of subsidized entry on capacity auctions and the long-run resource adequacy of electricity markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 205-232.
    7. Cl'emence Alasseur & Heythem Farhat & Marcelo Saguan, 2019. "A Principal-Agent approach to Capacity Remuneration Mechanisms," Papers 1911.12623,, revised Sep 2020.
    8. Aleksandra Komorowska, 2021. "Can Decarbonisation and Capacity Market Go Together? The Case Study of Poland," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(16), pages 1-35, August.
    9. Zhang, Huiming & Zheng, Yu & Ozturk, U. Aytun & Li, Shanjun, 2016. "The impact of subsidies on overcapacity: A comparison of wind and solar energy companies in China," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 821-827.
    10. Lemus, Ana B. & Moreno, Diego, 2017. "Price caps with capacity precommitment," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 131-158.
    11. Bublitz, Andreas & Keles, Dogan & Zimmermann, Florian & Fraunholz, Christoph & Fichtner, Wolf, 2018. "A survey on electricity market design: Insights from theory and real-world implementations of capacity remuneration mechanisms," Working Paper Series in Production and Energy 27, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute for Industrial Production (IIP).
    12. Bialek, Sylwia & Ünel, Burçin, 2022. "Efficiency in wholesale electricity markets: On the role of externalities and subsidies," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C).
    13. Khezr, Peyman & Nepal, Rabindra, 2021. "On the viability of energy-capacity markets under decreasing marginal costs," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(C).
    14. Heidarizadeh, Mohammad & Ahmadian, Mohammad, 2019. "Capacity certificate mechanism: A step forward toward a market based generation capacity incentive," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 172(C), pages 45-56.
    15. Bublitz, Andreas & Keles, Dogan & Zimmermann, Florian & Fraunholz, Christoph & Fichtner, Wolf, 2019. "A survey on electricity market design: Insights from theory and real-world implementations of capacity remuneration mechanisms," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 1059-1078.

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    More about this item


    Electricity markets; Competitive; Resource adequacy; Reliability; Capacity market; Transmission constraints; Minimum offer price rule; PJM;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • H44 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Goods: Mixed Markets
    • 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


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