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Strategic Bidding in a Multi-Unit Auction: An Empirical Analysis of Bids to Supply Electricity

  • Catherine D. Wolfram
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    This paper considers the bidding behavior of participants in the daily auction to supply electricity in England and Wales. Every day, owners of generating capacity submit bids reflecting a price for power from their plants. The price bid by the last plant used to meet electricity needs in a given time period is the price paid for capacity from all plants. Theoretical work on uniform-price multi-unit auctions suggests that bidders selling more than one unit of a good have an incentive to increase the prices they bid at high quantities. If a bid sets the equilibrium price, the bidder receives a higher price for that unit as well as for all inframarginal units. I find evidence of strategic bid increases. First, plants that are likely to be used after a number of other plants are already operating bid more. Second, the larger supplier submits higher bids, all else equal. Lastly, there is some evidence that bids for given plants are higher when the suppliers have more available capacity.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6269.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6269.

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    Date of creation: Nov 1997
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    Publication status: published as RAND Journal of Economics, Vol. 29, no. 4 (Winter 1998): 703-725.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6269
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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. Porter, Robert H, 1995. "The Role of Information in U.S. Offshore Oil and Gas Lease Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(1), pages 1-27, January.
    3. Laffont & Ossard & Vuong, 1995. "Econometrics of first-price auctions," Working Papers 153731, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
    4. Frank A. Wolak & Robert H. Patrick, 2001. "The Impact of Market Rules and Market Structure on the Price Determination Process in the England and Wales Electricity Market," NBER Working Papers 8248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Tenorio, Rafael, 1997. "On Strategic Quantity Bidding in Multiple Unit Auctions," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 207-17, June.
    6. Klemperer, Paul D & Meyer, Margaret A, 1989. "Supply Function Equilibria in Oligopoly under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1243-77, November.
    7. David M. Newbery, 1998. "Competition, Contracts, and Entry in the Electricity Spot Market," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(4), pages 726-749, Winter.
    8. Newbery, David M & Pollitt, Michael G, 1997. "The Restructuring and Privatization of Britain's CEGB--Was It Worth It?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(3), pages 269-303, September.
    9. Laffont, J.J. & Vuong, Q., 1992. "Structural Econometrics Analysis of descending Auctions," Papers 9202, Southern California - Department of Economics.
    10. Robert J. Weber, 1981. "Multiple-Object Auctions," Discussion Papers 496, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    11. Wilson, Robert, 1979. "Auctions of Shares," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 675-89, November.
    12. Back, Kerry & Zender, Jaime F, 1993. "Auctions of Divisible Goods: On the Rationale for the Treasury Experiment," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 6(4), pages 733-64.
    13. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1981. "Allocation Mechanisms and the Design of Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1477-99, November.
    14. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton, 1995. "Demand Reduction and Inefficiency in Multi-Unit Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 98wpdr, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 22 Jul 2002.
    15. Green, Richard J, 1996. "Increasing Competition in the British Electricity Spot Market," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 205-16, June.
    16. Joskow, Paul L, 1996. "Introducing Competition into Regulated Network Industries: From Hierarchies to Markets in Electricity," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 341-82.
    17. Nyborg, Kjell G. & Sundaresan, Suresh, 1996. "Discriminatory versus uniform Treasury auctions: Evidence from when-issued transactions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 63-104, September.
    18. Holt, Charles A & Langan, Loren W & Villamil, Anne P, 1986. "Market Power in Oral Double Auctions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 24(1), pages 107-23, January.
    19. Nautz, D., 1995. "Optimal bidding in multi-unit auctions with many bidders," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(3-4), pages 301-306, June.
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