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A Quantitative Analysis of Pricing Behavior in California's Wholesale Electricity Market During Summer 2000

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  • Paul Joskow
  • Edward Kahn

Abstract

We simulate competitive benchmark wholesale prices for electricity in California during the summer of 2000, taking account of changes in natural gas prices, electricity demand, and imports of electricity from other states during this time period. We also examine the impact of changes in the prices of NOx emissions permits on estimated competitive benchmark prices for electricity. The competitive benchmark prices are then compared to actual prices. A significant fraction of the changes in wholesale electricity prices in California during Summer 2000 can be explained by these four factors. The impact of higher NOx permit prices, and their interaction with reduced imports into California, have a particularly large impact on competitive benchmark prices. However, during June, July and August a large unexplained difference between actual prices and competitive benchmark prices remains. We tentatively attribute this difference to supplier market power and related market imperfections. We then examine whether there is evidence of strategic behavior by suppliers during the highest priced hours during the summer. Evidence of supply withholding --- exercise of market power --- during these hours is identified.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Joskow & Edward Kahn, 2001. "A Quantitative Analysis of Pricing Behavior in California's Wholesale Electricity Market During Summer 2000," NBER Working Papers 8157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8157
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Severin Borenstein & James Bushnell & Frank Wolak, 2000. "Diagnosing Market Power in California's Restructured Wholesale Electricity Market," NBER Working Papers 7868, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ellerman,A. Denny & Joskow,Paul L. & Schmalensee,Richard & Montero,Juan-Pablo & Bailey,Elizabeth M., 2005. "Markets for Clean Air," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521023894, Fall.
      • Ellerman,A. Denny & Joskow,Paul L. & Schmalensee,Richard & Montero,Juan-Pablo & Bailey,Elizabeth M., 2000. "Markets for Clean Air," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521660839.
    3. Bushnell, James & Wolfram, Catherine, 2008. "Electricity Markets," Staff General Research Papers Archive 31547, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    4. Borenstein, Severin & Bushnell, James, 1999. "An Empirical Analysis of the Potential for Market Power in California's Electricity Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(3), pages 285-323, September.
    5. 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.
    6. repec:bin:bpeajo:v:20:y:1989:i:1989-3:p:125-208 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Matthew E. Kahn & Siqi Zheng, 2016. "Introduction," Introductory Chapters,in: Blue Skies over Beijing:Economic Growth and the Environment in China Princeton University Press.
    8. Paul L. Joskow, 1989. "Regulatory Failure, Regulatory Reform, and Structural Change in the Electrical Power Industry," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 20(1989 Micr), pages 125-208.
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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
    • L43 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Legal Monopolies and Regulation or Deregulation
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

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