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The Visible Hand: Ensuring Optimal Investment in Electric Power Generation

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  • Léautier, Thomas-Olivier

Abstract

This article formally analyzes the various corrective mechanisms that have been proposed and implemented to alleviate underinvestment in electric power generation. It yields three main analytical findings. First, physical capacity certificates markets implemented in the United States restore optimal investment if and only if they are supplemented with a "no short sale" condition, i.e., producers can not sell more certificates than they have installed capacity. Then, they raise producers’ profits beyond the imperfect competition level. Second, financial reliability options, proposed in many markets, are effective at curbing market power, although they fail to fully restore investment incentives. If "no short sale" conditions are added, both physical capacity certificates and financial reliability options are equivalent. Finally, a single market for energy and operating reserves subject to a price cap is isomorphic to a simple energy market. Standard peak-load pricing analysis applies: under-investment occurs, unless production is perfectly competitive and the cap is never binding. This analysis highlight the limitations of the corrective mechanisms. This suggest that policy makers should first and foremost control and reduce the exercise of market power, then use these mechanisms as interim remedial measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Léautier, Thomas-Olivier, 2011. "The Visible Hand: Ensuring Optimal Investment in Electric Power Generation," IDEI Working Papers 605, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Mar 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:22628
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    Cited by:

    1. Simshauser, P., 2019. "Lessons from Australia’s National Electricity Market 1998-2018: the strengths and weaknesses of the reform experience," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1972, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. Paul Simshauser & Joel Gilmore, 2020. "Is the NEM broken? Policy discontinuity and the 2017-2020 investment megacycle," Working Papers EPRG2014, Energy Policy Research Group, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
    3. Simshauser, Paul, 2018. "On intermittent renewable generation & the stability of Australia's National Electricity Market," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 1-19.
    4. Simshauser, Paul, 2019. "Missing money, missing policy and Resource Adequacy in Australia's National Electricity Market," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 1-1.
    5. Clastres, Cédric & Khalfallah, Haikel, 2015. "An analytical approach to activating demand elasticity with a demand response mechanism," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(PA), pages 195-206.
    6. Simshauser, Paul, 2020. "Merchant renewables and the valuation of peaking plant in energy-only markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C).
    7. Bublitz, Andreas & Keles, Dogan & Zimmermann, Florian & Fraunholz, Christoph & Fichtner, Wolf, 2018. "A survey on electricity market design: Insights from theory and real-world implementations of capacity remuneration mechanisms," Working Paper Series in Production and Energy 27, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute for Industrial Production (IIP).
    8. Simshauser, P., 2021. "Rooftop Solar PV and the Peak Load Problem in the NEM’s Queensland Region," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 2180, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    9. David Brown, 2018. "Capacity Market Design: Motivation and Challenges in Alberta’s Electricity Market," SPP Briefing Papers, The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, vol. 11(12), March.
    10. Paul Simshauser, 2020. "Merchant utilities and boundaries of the firm: vertical integration in energy-only markets," Working Papers EPRG2008, Energy Policy Research Group, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

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