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Vertical Arrangements, Market Structure and Competition: An Analysis of Restructured U.S. Electricity Markets

  • Bushnell, James
  • Mansur, Erin T.
  • Saravia, Celeste

This paper examines vertical arrangements in electricity markets. Vertically integrated wholesalers, or those with long-term contracts, have less incentive to raise wholesale prices when retail prices are determined beforehand. For three restructured markets, we simulate prices that define bounds on static oligopoly equilibria. Our findings suggest that vertical arrangements dramatically affect estimated market outcomes. Had regulators impeded vertical arrangements (as in California), our simulations imply vastly higher prices than observed and production inefficiencies costing over 45 percent of those production costs with vertical arrangements. We conclude that horizontal market structure accurately predicts market performance only when accounting for vertical structure.

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Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 13130.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in American Economic Review, March 2008, vol. 98 no. 1, pp. 237-266
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:13130
Contact details of provider: Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
Web page:

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  1. Green, Richard & Newbery, David M G, 1991. "Competition in the British Electricity Spot Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 557, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Newey, Whitney K & West, Kenneth D, 1987. "A Simple, Positive Semi-definite, Heteroskedasticity and Autocorrelation Consistent Covariance Matrix," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 703-08, May.
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  4. Murphy, Kevin M & Topel, Robert H, 2002. "Estimation and Inference in Two-Step Econometric Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(1), pages 88-97, January.
  5. Mansur, Erin T, 2007. "Upstream Competition and Vertical Integration in Electricity Markets," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(1), pages 125-56, February.
  6. Fabra, Natalia & Toro, Juan, 2005. "Price wars and collusion in the Spanish electricity market," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(3-4), pages 155-181, April.
  7. Davidson, Russell & MacKinnon, James G., 1993. "Estimation and Inference in Econometrics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195060119.
  8. Liski, Matti & Montero, Juan-Pablo, 2006. "Forward trading and collusion in oligopoly," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 131(1), pages 212-230, November.
  9. Erin T. Mansur, 2007. "Measuring Welfare in Restructured Electricity Markets," NBER Working Papers 13509, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. repec:rus:hseeco:210193 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Borenstein, Severin & Bushnell, James & Knittel, Chris, 1999. "Market Power in Electricity Markets: Beyond Concentration Measures," Staff General Research Papers 31548, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  12. Allaz Blaise & Vila Jean-Luc, 1993. "Cournot Competition, Forward Markets and Efficiency," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 1-16, February.
  13. Rey, Patrick & Tirole, Jean, 2003. "A Primer on Foreclosure," IDEI Working Papers 203, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Nov 2005.
  14. Bushnell, James, 2007. "Oligopoly Equilibria in Electricity Contract Markets," Staff General Research Papers 13135, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  15. Bushnell, James & Wolfram, Catherine, 2008. "Electricity Markets," Staff General Research Papers 31547, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  16. Borenstein, Severin & Bushnell, James & Kahn, Edward & Stoft, Steven, 1995. "Market power in California electricity markets," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 5(3-4), pages 219-236.
  17. Richard Schmalensee & Bennett W. Golub, 1984. "Estimating Effective Concentration in Deregulated Wholesale Electricity Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(1), pages 12-26, Spring.
  18. Krattenmaker, Thomas G & Salop, Steven C, 1986. "Competition and Cooperation in the Market for Exclusionary Rights," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 109-13, May.
  19. Green, Richard, 1999. "The Electricity Contract Market in England and Wales," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 107-24, March.
  20. Bushnell, James, 2004. "California's electricity crisis: a market apart?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1045-1052, June.
  21. Klemperer, Paul D & Meyer, Margaret A, 1989. "Supply Function Equilibria in Oligopoly under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1243-77, November.
  22. Steven L. Puller, 2007. "Pricing and Firm Conduct in California's Deregulated Electricity Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 75-87, February.
  23. Aleksandr Rudkevich & Max Duckworth & Richard Rosen, 1998. "Modeling Electricity Pricing in a Deregulated Generation Industry: The Potential for Oligopoly Pricing in a Poolco," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 19-48.
  24. Mahenc, P. & Salanie, F., 2004. "Softening competition through forward trading," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 116(2), pages 282-293, June.
  25. Frank Wolak, 2000. "An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Hedge Contracts on Bidding Behavior in a Competitive Electricity Market," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(2), pages 1-39.
  26. 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.
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