Can Producers Apply a Capacity Cutting Strategy to Increase Prices? The Case of the England and Wales Electricity Market
Promoting competition among electricity producers is primarily targeted at ensuring low electricity prices for consumers. Producers could, however, withhold part of production facilities (i.e., apply a capacity cutting strategy) and thereby push more expensive production facilities to satisfy demand for electricity. This behavior could eventually lead to a higher price determined through a uniform price auction. In this paper, using the case of the England and Wales wholesale electricity market, we empirically examine whether producers can indeed apply a capacity cutting strategy. We analyze the bidding behavior of producers during high- and low-demand trading periods across trading days and find direct and indirect evidence for producers' successful manipulation of capacity bids targeted at increasing a wholesale electricity price. We also examine whether the regulatory reforms to improve competition were successful at mitigating the extent of strategic capacity manipulation.
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