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The Competitive Effects of Transmission Capacity in A Deregulated Electricity Industry


  • Severin Borenstein
  • James. Bushnell
  • Steven Stoft


In an unregulated electricity generation market, the capacity of transmission lines will determine the degree to which generators in different locations compete with one another. We show, however, that there may be no relationship between the effect of a transmission line in spurring competition and the actual electricity flows on the line in equilibrium. We also demonstrate that limited transmission capacity can give a firm the incentive to restrict its output in order to congest transmission into its area of dominance. As a result, relatively small investments in transmission may yield surprisingly large payoffs in terms of increased competition. We demonstrate these effects in the context of the deregulated California electricity market.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:31:y:2000:i:summer:p:294-325

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David, 1998. "Learning in games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 631-639, May.
    2. Shmuel S. Oren, 1997. "Economic Inefficiency of Passive Transmission Rights in Congested Electricity Systems with Competitive Generation," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 63-83.
    3. Frank A. Wolak & Robert H. Patrick, 2001. "The Impact of Market Rules and Market Structure on the Price Determination Process in the England and Wales Electricity Market," NBER Working Papers 8248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Cardell, Judith B. & Hitt, Carrie Cullen & Hogan, William W., 1997. "Market power and strategic interaction in electricity networks," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 109-137, March.
    5. Green, Richard J & Newbery, David M, 1992. "Competition in the British Electricity Spot Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 929-953, October.
    6. Borenstein, Severin & Bushnell, James & Kahn, Edward & Stoft, Steven, 1995. "Market power in California electricity markets," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 5(3-4), pages 219-236.
    7. Klemperer, Paul D & Meyer, Margaret A, 1989. "Supply Function Equilibria in Oligopoly under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1243-1277, November.
    8. David M. Kreps & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1983. "Quantity Precommitment and Bertrand Competition Yield Cournot Outcomes," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 326-337, Autumn.
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