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The Energy Journal
Volume 37, Number 2

The Informational Efficiency of European Natural Gas Hubs: Price Formation and Intertemporal Arbitrage

Sebastian Nick

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.2.snic
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In this study, the informational efficiency of the European natural gas market is analyzed by empirically investigating price formation and arbitrage efficiency between spot and futures markets. Econometric approaches accounting for nonlinearities induced by the low liquidity-framework and by technical constraints of the considered gas hubs are specified. The empirical results reveal that price discovery generally takes place on the futures market. Thus, the futures market seems to be more informationally efficient than the spot market. The theory of storage seems to hold at all hubs in the long run. There is empirical evidence of significant market frictions hampering intertemporal arbitrage. UK's NBP and Austria's CEGH seem to be the hubs at which arbitrage opportunities are exhausted most efficiently, although there is convergence in the degree of intertemporal arbitrage efficiency over time at the hubs investigated.

Short-term Hedging for an Electricity Retailer

Debbie Dupuis, Geneviève Gauthier, and Fréderic Godin

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.2.ddup
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A dynamic global hedging procedure making use of futures contracts is developed for a retailer of the electricity market facing price, load and basis risk. Statistical models reproducing stylized facts are developed for the electricity load, the day-ahead spot price and futures prices in the Nord Pool market. These models serve as input to the hedging algorithm, which also accounts for transaction fees. Back-tests with market data from 2007 to 2012 show that the global hedging procedure provides considerable risk reduction when compared to hedging benchmarks found in the literature.

The Impact of Stochastic Extraction Cost on the Value of an Exhaustible Resource: An Application to the Alberta Oil Sands

Abdullah Almansour and Margaret Insley

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.2.aalm
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The optimal management of a non-renewable resource extraction project is studied when input and output prices follow correlated stochastic processes. The decision problem is specified by two Bellman equations describing the project when it is currently operating or mothballed. Solutions are determined numerically using the Least Squares Monte Carlo methodology. The analysis is applied to an oil sands project which uses natural gas during extracting and upgrading. The paper takes into account the co-movement between crude oil and natural gas prices and proposes two price models: one incorporates a long-run link between the two while the other has no such link. Incorporating a long-run relationship between oil and natural gas prices has a significant effect on the value of the project and its optimal operation and reduces the sensitivity of the project to the natural gas price process.

The Visible Hand: Ensuring Optimal Investment in Electric Power Generation

Thomas-Olivier Léautier

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.2.tlea
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This article formally analyzes the various corrective mechanisms that have been proposed and implemented to alleviate underinvestment in electric power generation. It yields three main analytical findings. First, physical capacity certificates markets implemented in the United States restore optimal investment if and only if they are supplemented with a "no short sale" condition, i.e., producers can not sell more certificates than they have installed capacity. Then, they raise producers' profits beyond the imperfect competition level. Second, financial reliability options, proposed in many markets, are effective at curbing market power, although they fail to fully restore investment incentives. If "no short sale" conditions are added, both physical capacity certificates and financial reliability options are equivalent. Finally, a single market for energy and operating reserves subject to a price cap is isomorphic to a simple energy market. Standard peak-load pricing analysis applies: under-investment occurs, unless production is perfectly competitive and the cap is never binding.

Non-discrimination Clauses: Their Effect on British Retail Energy Prices

Catherine Waddams Price and Minyan Zhu

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.2.cpri
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UK governments and the energy regulator have shown increasing concern about the health of competition in the residential energy market, following their pioneering deregulation at the end of the last century. We identify the effects of introducing the non-discrimination clauses in 2009, a major regulatory intervention and the first since deregulation. We explore the effect of this intervention on the price movements of the six major players, and find that the nature of competition in the industry has changed, with less effective rivalry between the regional incumbents and large regional competitors following the intervention; companies seem to have 'retreated' to their home regions, leaving a market where pricing behaviour resembles more closely a duopoly between British Gas and the regional incumbent.

Market Power and Transmission Congestion in the Italian Electricity Market

Simona Bigerna, Carlo Andrea Bollino and Paolo Polinori

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.2.sbig
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Analysis of market power in electricity markets is relevant for understanding the competitive development of the industry's restructuring and liberalization process, but in the existing literature, there is not an adequate consideration of line transmission congestion. The aim of this paper is to propose a new approach to measuring market power in the Italian Power Exchange (IPEX), explicitly considering transmission line congestion. We construct a new measure of the residual demand curve to disentangle unilateral market power from congestion rent for the main Italian generators during the period April 2004 to December 2007. In Italy, this period was one of stable transmission network structure. Following the approach of Wolak (2003, 2009), we measure the unilateral market power with the Lerner index (LI), computed as the inverse of the residual demand elasticity. In conclusion, the correct modeling of the residual demand curve including transmission congestions enables us to compute the zonal LI and therefore more accurately measure the market power when congestion occurs. Our results show that various generators exercise market power only in specific zones. These findings provide deeper understanding of market outcomes in the presence of congestion, suggesting appropriate policy directions for market surveillance and competition regulation.

Diffusion of Climate Technologies in the Presence of Commitment Problems

Taran Faehn and Elisabeth T. Isaksen

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.2.tfae
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Publicly announced greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation targets and emissions pricing strategies by individual governments may suffer from inherent commitment problems. When emission prices are perceived as short-lived, socially cost-effective upfront investment in climate technologies may be hampered. This paper compares the social abatement cost of a uniform GHG pricing system with two policy options for overcoming such regulatory uncertainty: One combines the emissions pricing with a state guarantee scheme whereby the regulatory risk is borne by the government and one combines the system with subsidies for upfront climate technology investments. A technology-rich computable general equilibrium model is applied that accounts for abatement both within and beyond existing technologies. Our findings suggest a tripling of abatement costs if domestic climate policies fail to stimulate investment in new technological solutions. Since the cost of funding investment subsidies is found to be small, the subsidy scheme performs almost as well as the guarantee scheme.

Sectoral Interfuel Substitution in Canada: An Application of NQ Flexible Functional Forms

Ali Jadidzadeh and Apostolos Serletis

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.2.ajad
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This paper focuses on the aggregate demand for electricity, natural gas, and light fuel oil in Canada as a whole and six of its provinces - Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia - in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. We employ the locally flexible normalized quadratic (NQ) expenditure function (in the case of the residential sector) and the NQ cost function (in the case of the commercial and industrial sectors), treat the curvature property as a maintained hypothesis, and provide evidence consistent with neoclassical microeconomic theory. We find that the Morishima interfuel elasticities of substitution are in general positive and statistically significant. Our results indicate limited substitutability between electricity and natural gas, but strong substitutability between light fuel oil and each of electricity and natural gas in most cases.

Money for Nothing? Why FERC Order 745 Should have Died

Xu Chen and Andrew N. Kleit

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.2.xche
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Customer baseline load (CBL) measurement is designed to represent participants' expected usage in a number of electricity demand response (DR) programs. Our empirical results, however, show that CBLs can be systematically higher than DR participants' estimated load, especially for those experienced in DR activities, likely due to manipulation behaviors. Thus, the integrity of CBL may degrade over time. With an inflated CBL, the impact of DR programs may therefore be highly exaggerated, and consumers can be paid money when they are not actually reducing their demand. In particular, we design a manipulation-indicating variable "seemingly unattractive free-money opportunity" (SUFO) and discover system-wide manipulative behaviors that increase with time and are widely adopted by experienced DR participants. We suggest that policy makers in FERC, RTOs, and states regulatory agencies consider the threat of manipulation when modifying DR market rules following the Supreme Court's recent upholding of FERC Order 745.

Energy and Economic Growth: The Stylized Facts

Zsuzsanna Csereklyei, M. d. Mar Rubio-Varas, and David I. Stern

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.2.zcse
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We summarize what we know about energy and economic growth in a set of stylized facts. We combine analysis of a panel data set of 99 countries from 1971 to 2010 with analysis of some longer run historical data. Our key result is that over the last 40 years there has been a stable cross-sectional relationship between per capita energy use and income per capita with an elasticity of energy use with respect to income of less than unity. This implies that energy intensity has tended to decrease in countries that have become richer but not in others. We also find that over the last two centuries there has been convergence in energy intensity towards the current distribution, per capita energy use has tended to rise and energy quality to increase, and, though evidence is limited, the cost share of energy has declined.

The Rebound Effect for Passenger Vehicles

Joshua Linn

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5547/01956574.37.2.jlin
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The United States and many other countries are dramatically tightening fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles. Higher fuel economy reduces per-mile driving costs and may increase miles traveled, known as the rebound effect. The magnitude of the elasticity of miles traveled to fuel economy is an important parameter in welfare analysis of fuel economy standards, but all previous estimates from micro data impose at least one of three behavioral assumptions: (a) fuel economy is uncorrelated with vehicle and household attributes; (b) for multi-vehicle households, each vehicle can be treated as an independent observation in statistical analysis; and (c) the effect of gasoline prices on vehicle miles traveled is inversely proportional to the effect of fuel economy. Two approaches to relaxing these assumptions yield a large estimate of the rebound effect; a one percent fuel economy increase raises driving 0.2 or 0.4 percent, depending on the approach, but the estimates are not statistically significantly different from one another.

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