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Diagnosing Market Power in California's Deregulated Wholesale Electricity Market

  • Borenstein, Severin
  • Bushnell, James
  • Wolak, Frank

Effective competition in wholesale electricity markets is the cornerstone of the deregulation of the electricity generation industry. We examine the degree of competition in the California wholesale electricity market during June-November 1998 by comparing the market prices with estimates of the prices that would have resulted if all firms were price takers. We find that there were significant departures from competitive pricing and that it was most pronounced during the highest demand periods. Overall, this raised the cost of power purchases by about 22% above the competitive level. We also explain why the prices observed cannot be attributed to competitive peak-load pricing.

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Paper provided by Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series with number qt3rx965d5.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 1999
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:compol:qt3rx965d5
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  1. Kahn, Edward & Bailey, Shawn & Pando, Luis, 1997. "Simulating electricity restructuring in California: Interactions with the regional market," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 3-28, March.
  2. Green, Richard & Newbery, David M G, 1991. "Competition in the British Electricity Spot Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 557, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Severin Borenstein & James Bushnell & Christopher R. Knittel, 1999. "Market Power in Electricity Markets: Beyond Concentration Measures," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 65-88.
  6. Bushnell, J. & Oren, S., 1997. "Transmission pricing in California's proposed electricity market," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 237-244, September.
  7. Joskow, Paul L & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "Transmission Rights and Market Power on Electric Power Networks. II: Physical Rights," CEPR Discussion Papers 2087, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. 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.
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