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The Difficult Transition to Competitive Electricity Markets in the U.S


  • Joskow, P.L.


This paper discusses the causes and consequences of state and federal initiatives to introduce wholesale and retail competition into the U.S. electricity sector from 1995. The development and performance of wholesale market institutions, the expansion of wholesale power trade, the entry of merchant generating capacity, and the financial collapse of the trading and merchant generating sector is discussed. Issues regarding the ability of evolving spot wholesale energy market institutions and market power mitigation mechanisms in the absence of some form of peak capacity obligation are discussed theoretically and evaluated empirically. The diffusion of retail competition and the performance of retail competition programs in eight states is examined empirically. The analysis leads to the overall conclusion that the development of efficient competitive wholesale and retail electricity markets continues to be a work in progress and faces many technical, institutional and political challenges in the U.S.

Suggested Citation

  • Joskow, P.L., 2003. "The Difficult Transition to Competitive Electricity Markets in the U.S," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0328, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0328
    Note: CMI28, IO

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Holmstrom, Bengt & Tirole, Jean, 2000. "Liquidity and Risk Management," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(3), pages 295-319, August.
    2. Paul L. Joskow, 1997. "Restructuring, Competition and Regulatory Reform in the U.S. Electricity Sector," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 119-138, Summer.
    3. Paul L. Joskow, 2001. "California's Electricity Crisis," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(3), pages 365-388.
    4. Paul Joskow & Jean Tirole, 2005. "Merchant Transmission Investment," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(2), pages 233-264, June.
    5. Oren, Shmuel S. & Spiller, Pablo T. & Varaiya, Pravin & Wu, Felix, 1995. "Nodal prices and transmission rights: A critical appraisal," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 24-35, April.
    6. Joskow, Paul L, 1974. "Inflation and Environmental Concern: Structural Change in the Process of Public Utility Price Regulation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 291-327, October.
    7. repec:dau:papers:123456789/12331 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. 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.
    9. Littlechild, Stephen C, 2003. "Wholesale Spot Price Pass-Through," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 61-91, January.
    10. Severin Borenstein & James B. Bushnell & Frank A. Wolak, 2002. "Measuring Market Inefficiencies in California's Restructured Wholesale Electricity Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1376-1405, December.
    11. Catherine D. Wolfram, 1999. "Measuring Duopoly Power in the British Electricity Spot Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 805-826, September.
    12. Joskow, Paul L & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "Transmission Rights and Market Power on Electric Power Networks I: Financial Rights," CEPR Discussion Papers 2093, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Green, Richard, 2000. "Can Competition Replace Regulation for Small Utility Customers?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2406, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Monica Giulietti & Catherine Waddams Price & Michael Waterson, 2005. "Consumer Choice and Competition Policy: a Study of UK Energy Markets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 949-968, October.
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