Did residential electricity rates fall after retail competition? A dynamic panel analysis
A key selling point for the restructuring of electricity markets was the promise of lower prices. There is not much consensus in earlier studies on the effects of electricity deregulation in the U.S., particularly for residential customers. Part of the reason for not finding a consistent link with deregulation and lower prices was that the removal of transitional price caps led to higher prices. In addition, the timing of the removal of price caps coincided with rising fuel prices, which were passed on to consumers in a competitive market. Using a dynamic panel model, we analyze the effect of participation rates, fuel costs, market size, a rate cap and switch to competition for 16 states and the District of Columbia. We find that an increase in participation rates, price controls, a larger market, and high shares of hydro in electricity generation lower retail prices, while increases in natural gas and coal prices increase rates. We also find that retail competition makes the market more efficient by lowering the markup of retail prices over wholesale costs. The effects of a competitive retail electricity market are mixed across states, but generally appear to lower prices in states with high participation rates.
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