An experimental test of automatic mitigation of wholesale electricity prices
In several major deregulated electricity generation markets, the market operator uses an "automatic mitigation procedure" (AMP) to attempt to suppress the exercise of market power. A leading type of AMP compares the offer price from each generation unit with a recent historical average of accepted offer prices from that same unit during periods when there was no transmission-system congestion to impede competition. If one or more units' offer prices exceed the recent historical average by more than a specified margin, and if these offer prices raise the market-clearing price by more than a specified margin, the market operator replaces the offending offer prices with lower ones. In an experiment, we test an AMP of this type. We find that it keeps market prices close to marginal cost if generation owners have low market power in uncongested periods. However, with high market power in uncongested periods, a condition that may apply in many parts of the world, the generation owners are able to gradually raise the market price well above short-run marginal cost in spite of the AMP. We also test the effect of the AMP on the frequency with which high-variable-cost units are used, inefficiently, in place of low-variable-cost units.
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