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Understanding Strategic Bidding in Restructured Electricity Markets: A Case Study of ERCOT

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  • Ali Hortacsu
  • Steven L. Puller

Abstract

We examine the bidding behavior of firms competing on ERCOT, the hourly electricity balancing market in Texas. We characterize an equilibrium model of bidding into this uniform-price divisible-good auction market. Using detailed firm-level data on bids and marginal costs of generation, we find that firms with large stakes in the market performed close to theoretical benchmarks of static, profit-maximizing bidding derived from our model. However, several smaller firms utilized excessively steep bid schedules that deviated significantly from our theoretical benchmarks, in a manner that could not be empirically accounted for by the presence of technological adjustment costs, transmission constraints, or collusive behavior. Our results suggest that payoff scale matters in firms' willingness and ability to participate in complex, strategic market environments. Finally, although smaller firms moved closer to theoretical bidding benchmarks over time, their bidding patterns contributed to productive inefficiency in this newly restructured market, along with efficiency losses due to the close-to optimal exercise of market power by larger firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Ali Hortacsu & Steven L. Puller, 2005. "Understanding Strategic Bidding in Restructured Electricity Markets: A Case Study of ERCOT," NBER Working Papers 11123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11123
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Fiuza de Bragança, Gabriel Godofredo & Daglish, Toby, 2016. "Can market power in the electricity spot market translate into market power in the hedge market?," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 11-26.
    2. Ali Hortaçsu & Steven L. Puller, 2008. "Understanding strategic bidding in multi-unit auctions: a case study of the Texas electricity spot market," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(1), pages 86-114.
    3. Georg Zachmann, 2007. "A Markov Switching Model of the Merit Order to Compare British and German Price Formation," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 714, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    4. Hunt Allcott, 2012. "The Smart Grid, Entry, and Imperfect Competition in Electricity Markets," NBER Working Papers 18071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Pirrong, Craig & Jermakyan, Martin, 2008. "The price of power: The valuation of power and weather derivatives," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(12), pages 2520-2529, December.
    6. de Braganca, Gabriel Fiuza & Daglish, Toby, 2012. "Can market power in the electricity spot market translate into market power in the hedge market?," Working Paper Series 4130, Victoria University of Wellington, The New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation.
    7. Elizabeth Armington & Eric Emch & Ken Heyer, 2006. "The Year in Review: Economics at the Antitrust Division, 2005–2006," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 29(4), pages 305-326, December.
    8. Avi Goldfarb & Teck-Hua Ho & Wilfred Amaldoss & Alexander Brown & Yan Chen & Tony Cui & Alberto Galasso & Tanjim Hossain & Ming Hsu & Noah Lim & Mo Xiao & Botao Yang, 2012. "Behavioral models of managerial decision-making," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 405-421, June.
    9. Ali Hortacsu & Samita Sareen, 2005. "Order Flow and the Formation of Dealer Bids: Information Flows and Strategic Behavior in the Government of Canada Securities Auctions," NBER Working Papers 11116, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Ali Hortaçsu & Fernando Luco & Steven L. Puller & Dongni Zhu, 2017. "Does Strategic Ability Affect Efficiency? Evidence from Electricity Markets," NBER Working Papers 23526, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy
    • L9 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities

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