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Electricity Restructuring in Ontario

Abstract:
This paper examines the short-lived electricity sector restructuring initiative of the province of Ontario, Canada�s largest province. In May 2002, following years of planning and consultation Ontario opened its retail and wholesale electricity markets to competition. The summer of 2002 saw retail prices reach levels that consumers had never previously encountered. By December 2002, the provincial government froze retail electricity prices, covering approximately half of Ontario�s electricity consumption. While the weather played a significant role in driving prices higher during the summer of 2002, other factors also played a major role. The other factors reviewed in this paper fall into two categories. The first category consists of market design problems, such as market rules (e.g., trading arrangements) and market structure (e.g., the degree of competition in the generation sector). The second category covers political economy problems, in particular the lack of political will to allow retail prices to reflect wholesale prices and to address effectively structural problems in the sector. Finally, this paper examines some of the new restructuring initiatives being pursued by the recently elected provincial government of Ontario as the province continues to struggle to bring order to its electricity sector.

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Energy Specializations: Electricity – Markets and Prices ; Electricity – Policy and Regulation; Energy and the Economy – Energy as a Productive Input; Energy and the Economy –Economic Growth and Energy Demand; Energy and the Economy – Resource Endowments and Economic Performance; Energy and the Economy – Energy Shocks and Business Cycles

JEL Codes:
D42 - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design: Monopoly
E60 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General
O13 - Economic Development: Agriculture; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Other Primary Products
Q34 - Natural Resources and Domestic and International Conflicts
F44 - International Business Cycles

Keywords: Electricity markets, Deregulation, Ontario, government policy, electricity prices

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol26-No1-6


Published in Volume 26, Number 1 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.