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Do pay-as-bid auctions favor collusion? Evidence from Germany's market for reserve power

  • Heim, Sven
  • Götz, Georg

We analyze a drastic price increase in the German auction market for reserve power, which did not appear to be driven by increased costs. Studying the market structure and individual bidding strategies, we find evidence for collusive behavior in an environment with repeated auctions, pivotal suppliers and inelastic demand. The price increase can be traced back to an abuse of the auction's pay-as-bid mechanism by the two largest firms. In contrast to theoretical findings, we show that pay-as-bid auctions do not necessarily reduce incentives for strategic capacity withholding and collusive behavior, but can even increase them.

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Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 13-035.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:13035
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  1. Paul Klemperer, 2002. "What Really Matters in Auction Design," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 169-189, Winter.
  2. Swider, Derk J. & Weber, Christoph, 2007. "Bidding under price uncertainty in multi-unit pay-as-bid procurement auctions for power systems reserve," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 181(3), pages 1297-1308, September.
  3. Natalia Fabra, 2003. "Tacit Collusion in Repeated Auctions: Uniform Versus Discriminatory," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 271-293, 09.
  4. Cabral, Luis, 2002. "The California energy crisis," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 335-339, August.
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  6. Joskow, P. & Edward Kahn, 2002. "A Quantitative Analysis of Pricing Behavior In California’s Wholesale Electricity Market During Summer 2000," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0211, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  7. Dechenaux, Emmanuel & Kovenock, Dan, 2007. "Tacit collusion and capacity withholding in repeated uniform price auctions," MPRA Paper 36764, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Catherine D. Wolfram, 1998. "Strategic Bidding in a Multiunit Auction: An Empirical Analysis of Bids to Supply Electricity in England and Wales," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(4), pages 703-725, Winter.
  9. Green, Richard J & Joanne Evans, 2003. "Why did British electricity prices fall after 1998?," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 92, Royal Economic Society.
  10. Holmberg, Pär, 2009. "Supply Function Equilibria of Pay-as-Bid Auctions," Working Paper Series 787, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  11. Müller, Gernot & Rammerstorfer, Margarethe, 2008. "A theoretical analysis of procurement auctions for tertiary control in Germany," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 2620-2627, July.
  12. Rassenti, Stephen J & Smith, Vernon L & Wilson, Bart J, 2003. "Discriminatory Price Auctions in Electricity Markets: Low Volatility at the Expense of High Price Levels," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 109-23, March.
  13. Federico, Giulio & Rahman, David, 2003. "Bidding in an Electricity Pay-as-Bid Auction," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 175-211, September.
  14. 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.
  15. Rothkopf, Michael H., 2002. "Control of Market Power in Electricity Auctions," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 15(8), pages 15-24, October.
  16. Peter Cramton & Steven Stoft, 2007. "Why We Need to Stick with Uniform-Price Auctions in Electricity Markets," Papers of Peter Cramton 07cpm, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 2007.
  17. Alfred E. Kahn & Peter Cramton & Robert H. Porter & Richard D. Tabors, 2001. "Uniform Pricing or Pay-as-Bid Pricing: A Dilemma for California and Beyond," Papers of Peter Cramton 01ej, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 27 Jan 2001.
  18. Borenstein, Severin & Bushnell, James & Knittel, Chris, 1999. "Market Power in Electricity Markets: Beyond Concentration Measures," Staff General Research Papers 31548, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  19. Hurlbut, David & Rogas, Keith & Oren, Shmuel, 2004. "Protecting the Market from "Hockey Stick" Pricing: How the Public Utility Commission of Texas is Dealing with Potential Price Gouging," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 26-33, April.
  20. Just, Sebastian & Weber, Christoph, 2008. "Pricing of reserves: Valuing system reserve capacity against spot prices in electricity markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 3198-3221, November.
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