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Arbitrage in energy markets: competing in the incumbent's shadow

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  • Gerd Küpper
  • Bert Willems

Abstract

This paper studies the welfare implications of using market mechanisms to allocate transmission capacity in recently liberalized electricity markets. It questions whether access to this essential facility should be traded on a market, or whether the incumbent should retain exclusive usage rights. We show that granting exclusive use to the incumbent might be optimal, if the capacity of the essential facility is small and the incumbent can reduce production costs by taking advantage of interregional production-cost differences. This result counters the intuition that arbitrage will improve the social surplus when there is no output contraction. The reason is that when competition is imperfect, arbitrage might reduce production efficiency. We advise policymakers to introduce market mechanisms for the allocation of transmission capacity only if sufficient investment in the network is ensured or if the market power of the incumbent is broken in at least one of the markets in which it is active.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerd Küpper & Bert Willems, 2007. "Arbitrage in energy markets: competing in the incumbent's shadow," Working Papers Department of Economics ces0730, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ete:ceswps:ces0730
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, January.
    2. Richard Gilbert & Neuhoff, K. & Newbery, D., 2002. "Allocating Transmission to Mitigate Market Power in Electricity Networks," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0225, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    3. Varian, Hal R, 1985. "Price Discrimination and Social Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 870-875, September.
    4. 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.
    5. Schmalensee, Richard, 1981. "Output and Welfare Implications of Monopolistic Third-Degree Price Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(1), pages 242-247, March.
    6. Malueg, David A, 1993. "Bounding the Welfare Effects of Third-Degree Price Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 1011-1021, September.
    7. 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.
    8. Layson, Stephen, 1988. "Third-Degree Price Discrimination, Welfare and Profits: A Geometrical Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1131-1132, December.
    9. Shih, Jun-ji & Mai, Chao-cheng & Liu, Jung-chao, 1988. "A General Analysis of the Output Effect under Third-Degree Price Discrimination," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(389), pages 149-158, March.
    10. Bert Willems, 2002. "Barring consumers from the electricity network might improve welfare," Energy, Transport and Environment Working Papers Series ete0213, KU Leuven, Department of Economics - Research Group Energy, Transport and Environment.
    11. Reza Ahmadi & B. Rachel Yang, 2000. "Parallel Imports: Challenges from Unauthorized Distribution Channels," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 19(3), pages 279-294, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dijk, Justin & Willems, Bert, 2011. "The effect of counter-trading on competition in electricity markets," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 1764-1773, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Arbitrage; electricity sector; price discrimination;

    JEL classification:

    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • L50 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - General
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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