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California's Electricity Crisis

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  • Paul L. Joskow

Abstract

This paper discusses the political, regulatory and economic factors that led to California's electricity crisis in 2000 and 2001. It begins with a discussion of the origins of California's electricity restructuring and competition programs. It then discusses the structure of the wholesale and retail markets and associated transition institutions created in 1996-98 and the performance of these institutions during their first two years of operation. The discussion of the electricity crisis is then conveniently broken down into three phases: (a) May 2000 through September 2000, (b) October 2000 through December 2000, January 2001 to the June 2001. Each phase is discussed in turn. The paper concludes with a discussion of lessons about electricity market liberalization gained from the recent experience in California.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul L. Joskow, 2001. "California's Electricity Crisis," NBER Working Papers 8442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8442
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hogan, William W, 1992. "Contract Networks for Electric Power Transmission," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 211-242, September.
    2. 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.
    3. Paul L. Joskow, 1997. "Restructuring, Competition and Regulatory Reform in the U.S. Electricity Sector," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 119-138, Summer.
    4. David M. Newbery & Michael G. Pollitt, 1997. "The Restructuring and Privatisation of Britain's CEGB—Was It Worth It?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(3), pages 269-303, September.
    5. 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.
    6. William W. Hogan, 1993. "Markets in Real Electric Networks Require Reactive Prices," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 171-200.
    7. Borenstein, Severin & Bushnell, James & Wolak, Frank, 1999. "Diagnosing Market Power in California's Deregulated Wholesale Electricity Market," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt3rx965d5, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    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:

    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy
    • L9 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities

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