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Do Oligopolists Pollute Less? Evidence from a Restructured Electricity Market

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  • Erin T. Mansur

Abstract

Electricity restructuring has created the opportunity for producers to exercise market power. Oligopolists increase price by distorting output decisions, causing cross-firm production inefficiencies. This study estimates the environmental implications of production inefficiencies attributed to market power in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland electricity market. Air pollution fell substantially during 1999, the year in which both electricity restructuring and new environmental regulation took effect. I find that strategic firms reduced their emissions by approximately 20% relative to other firms and their own historic emissions. Next, I compare observed behavior with estimates of production, and therefore emissions, in a competitive market. According to a model of competitive behavior, changing costs explain approximately two-thirds of the observed pollution reductions. The remaining third can be attributed to firms exercising market power.

Suggested Citation

  • Erin T. Mansur, 2007. "Do Oligopolists Pollute Less? Evidence from a Restructured Electricity Market," NBER Working Papers 13511, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13511
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Erin T. Mansur, 2007. "Prices vs. Quantities: Environmental Regulation and Imperfect Competition," NBER Working Papers 13510, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Meghan R. Busse & Christopher R. Knittel & Jorge Silva-Risso & Florian Zettelmeyer, 2016. "Who is exposed to gas prices? How gasoline prices affect automobile manufacturers and dealerships," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 41-95, March.
    3. Erin Mansur, 2013. "Prices versus quantities: environmental regulation and imperfect competition," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 80-102, August.
    4. Halkos, George & Polemis, Michael, 2018. "Does market structure trigger efficiency? Evidence for the USA before and after the financial crisis," MPRA Paper 84511, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Johnsen, Reid & LaRiviere, Jacob & Wolff, Hendrik, 2016. "Estimating Indirect Benefits: Fracking, Coal and Air Pollution," IZA Discussion Papers 10170, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Anthony Heyes, 2009. "Is environmental regulation bad for competition? A survey," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 1-28, August.
    7. Chaton, Corinne & Guillerminet, Marie-Laure, 2013. "Competition and environmental policies in an electricity sector," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 215-228.
    8. Kim, Dongha & Jeong, Jinook, 2016. "Electricity restructuring, greenhouse gas emissions efficiency and employment reallocation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 468-476.
    9. Linn, Joshua, 2010. "The effect of cap-and-trade programs on firms' profits: Evidence from the Nitrogen Oxides Budget Trading Program," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 1-14, January.
    10. Asane-Otoo, Emmanuel, 2016. "Competition policies and environmental quality: Empirical analysis of the electricity sector in OECD countries," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 212-223.
    11. Meredith Fowlie, 2008. "Incomplete Environmental Regulation, Imperfect Competition, and Emissions Leakage," NBER Working Papers 14421, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

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