Energy Journal Issue

The Energy Journal
Volume 44, Number 3



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The Rationale for Reforming Utility Business Models

Daniel J. Kopin and Richard G. Vanden Bergh

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.44.2.dkop

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Abstract:
Economic models assume public utility commissions reform utility business models with revenue decoupling mechanisms primarily to remove the disincentive for demand-side management investment, which is expected to enhance social welfare. This paper tests that widespread assumption. We find some but limited support for commission responsiveness to avoided environmental costs. Instead, we find commission responsiveness to avoided political costs resulting from high prices of residential electricity compared to the regional average and high levels of partisan competition in the state legislature. Beyond questioning the primacy of the public interest rationale for regulation, our results give reason to reevaluate economic models of utility business model reform that do not explicitly consider commission interests in minimizing political risks.




On the Role of Risk Aversion and Market Design in Capacity Expansion Planning

Christoph Fraunholz, Kim K. Miskiw, Emil Kraft, Wolf Fichtner, and Christoph Weber

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.44.2.cfra

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Abstract:
Investment decisions in competitive power markets are based upon thorough profitability assessments. Thereby, investors typically show a high degree of risk aversion, which is the main argument for capacity mechanisms being implemented around the world. In order to investigate the interdependencies between investors' risk aversion and market design, we extend the agent-based electricity market model PowerACE to account for long-term uncertainties. This allows us to model capacity expansion planning from an agent perspective and with different risk preferences. The enhanced model is then applied in a multi-country case study of the European electricity market. Our results show that assuming risk-averse rather than risk-neutral investors leads to slightly reduced investments in dispatchable capacity, higher wholesale electricity prices, and reduced levels of resource adequacy. These effects are more pronounced in an energy-only market than under a capacity mechanism. Moreover, uncoordinated changes in market design may also lead to negative cross-border effects.




Residential and Industrial Energy Efficiency Improvements: A Dynamic General Equilibrium Analysis of the Rebound Effect

Sondès Kahouli and Xavier Pautrel

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.44.2.skah

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Abstract:
The aim of this paper is to investigate bi-directional spillovers into residential and industrial sectors induced by energy efficiency improvement (EEI) in both the short- and long-term, and the impact of nesting structure as well as the size of elasticities of substitution of production and utility functions on the magnitude and the transitional dynamic of rebound effect. Developing a dynamic general equilibrium model, we demonstrate that residential EEIs spillover into the industrial sector through the labor supply channel and industrial EEIs spillover into the residential sector through the conventional income channel. Numerical simulations calibrated on the U.S. suggest that not taking into account these spillover effects could lead to misestimating the rebound effect notably of residential sector EEIs. We also demonstrate how the size and the duration of the rebound effect depend on the elasticities of substitution’s values. Numerical simulations suggest that alternative sets of value for the elasticities of substitution may give different sizable patterns of rebound effects in both the short- and long-term. In policy terms, our results support the idea that energy efficiency policies should be implemented simultaneously with rebound effect offsetting policies by considering short- and long-term economy feedbacks. As a consequence, they require considering debates about what type of policy pathways are more effective in mitigating the rebound effect.




Efficient Renewable Electricity Support: Designing an Incentive-compatible Support Scheme

David Newbery

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.44.3.dnew

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Abstract:
Most existing renewables support schemes distort location and dispatch decisions. Many impose unnecessary risk on developers, increasing support costs. Efficient policy sets the right carbon price, supports capacity not output, ensures efficient dispatch and location. The EU bans priority dispatch and requires market-based bidding, but does not address the underlying problem that payment is conditional on generation, amplifying incentives to locate in windy/sunny sites. This article identifies the various distortions and proposes an auctioned contract to address location and dispatch distortions: a financial Contract for Difference (CfD) with hourly contracted volume proportional to local renewable output/MW, with a life specified in MWh/MW, with long-term transmission contracts based on predicted output-weighted actual or simulated nodal prices. This yardstick CfD delivers efficient dispatch. It assures but limits the total subsidy. It does not over-pay for windy/sunny sites. The revenue assurance allows high debt:equity, dramatically lowering the subsidy cost.




Firms and Households during the Pandemic: What Do We Learn from Their Electricity Consumption?

Olympia Bover, Natalia Fabra, Sandra García-Uribe, Aitor Lacuesta, and Roberto Ramos

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.44.2.obov

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Abstract:
We analyze the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on electricity consumption patterns. We highlight the importance of decomposing total electricity consumption into consumption by firms and by households to better understand the economic and social impacts of the crisis. While electricity demand by firms has fallen substantially, the demand by households has gone up. In particular, our focus is on Spain where, during the total lockdown, these effects reached –29% and +10% respectively, controlling for temperature and seasonality. While the electricity demand reductions during the second wave were milder, the demand by firms remained 5% below its normal levels. We also document a change in people’s daily routines in response to the stringency of the lockdown measures, as reflected in their hourly electricity consumption patterns.




How Cost-effective are Electric Vehicle Subsidies in Reducing Tailpipe-CO2 Emissions? An Analysis of Major Electric Vehicle Markets

Tamara L. Sheldon, Rubal Dua, and Omar Abdullah Alharbi

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.44.2.tshe

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Abstract:
We estimate the cost-effectiveness of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) subsidies in reducing tailpipe-CO2 emissions in China, the U.S., and nine European countries. We find that the per-tonne cost of tailpipe-CO2 avoided increases linearly with the government-subsidized percentage of the PEV price. Costs are relatively higher in the Netherlands and Denmark, which subsidized high-priced PEVs including plug-in hybrids, and lower in the U.S., where PEVs replaced higher-emissions cars. Chinese PEV subsidies have a short-run static cost of up to $1,600 per tonne, far exceeding the social cost of carbon, suggesting that subsidies are more a part of China's industrial policy than its carbon policy. When subsidy-induced PEV sales and power generation emissions are considered, the ordering of countries based on the cost-effectiveness of subsidies changes. The long-run dynamic subsidy cost is expected to be lower, as current subsidies may drive future innovation and sales, and due to grid decarbonization.




What Duality Theory Tells Us About Giving Market Operators the Authority to Dispatch Energy Storage

Yuzhou Jiang and Ramteen Sioshansi

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.44.2.yjia

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Abstract:
There is a debate about which entity should have the authority to dispatch energy storage that participates in restructured wholesale electricity markets. Some stakeholders raise concerns that market operators' independence can be threatened if they make operational decisions for energy storage. The rationale that underlies this concern is that operating energy storage can affect the balance of the system and price formation. We demonstrate that having market operators make operational decisions for energy storage does not change the fundamental nature of the optimal-power-flow problem. Using duality theory, we show that if market operators co-optimize the operation of energy storage with that of generators and transmission, the optimal-power-flow problem yields short-run dispatch support and incentive compatibility and long-run efficiency. These findings are analogous to those for having market operators co-optimize transmission use with generator dispatch. Our work suggests that concerns around giving market operators the authority to dispatch energy storage are misplaced.




Strategic Behavior and Market Design in Regional Climate Policy

Brittany L. Tarufelli

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.44.2.btar

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Abstract:
U.S. electricity markets vary by region and imperfectly overlap with regional climate policies. Although emissions leakage across emissions-regulated and -unregulated areas may depend on regional market design, and the extent of trading between market designs, previous studies of leakage from regional climate policies have focused on market power and market efficiency within only a centralized region following market rules. I develop a theoretical model which considers a second-best problem where a climate policy to correct for a negative externality from carbon emissions can be distorted by another market failure from the market design itself. My model allows for several types of non-overlapping climate policies and electricity market designs, and generates leakage predictions for these combinations.




Modeling Multi-horizon Electricity Demand Forecasts in Australia: A Term Structure Approach

Stan Hurn, Vance Martin, and Jing Tian

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.44.2.shur

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Abstract:
The Australian Electricity Market Operator generates one-day ahead electricity demand forecasts for the National Electricity Market in Australia and updates these forecasts over time until the time of dispatch. Despite the fact that these forecasts play a crucial role in the decision-making process of market participants, little attention has been paid to their evaluation and interpretation. Using half-hourly data from 2011 to 2015 for New South Wales and Queensland, it is shown that the official half-hourly demand forecasts do not satisfy the econometric properties required of rational forecasts. Instead there is a relationship between forecasts and forecast horizon similar to a term structure model of interest rates. To study the term structure of demand forecasts, a factor analysis that uses a small set of latent factors to explain the common variation among multiple observables is implemented. A three-factor model is identified with the factors admitting interpretation as the level, slope and curvature of the term structure of forecasts. The validity of the model is reinforced by assessing the economic value of demand forecasts. It is demonstrated that simple adjustments to long-horizon electricity demand forecasts based on the three estimated factors can enhance the informational content of the official forecasts.




Load-Following Forward Contracts

David P. Brown and David E. M. Sappington

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.44.2.dbro

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Abstract:
Suppliers and large buyers of electricity often sign load-following forward contracts (LFFCs). A LFFC obligates an electricity supplier to deliver at a pre-specified unit price a fraction of the buyer's ultimate demand for electricity. We show that relative to more standard ("swap") forward contracts, LFFCs can reduce the variation in the wholesale price of electricity. However, LFFCs also can increase the expected wholesale price and thereby reduce expected consumer surplus and total surplus.




Book Reviews

The Great Texas Oil Heist, by Robert Cargill - Book Review by: Timothy Fitzgerald

Short Circuiting Policy, by Leah Cardamore Stokes - Book Review by: Michael Giberson





 

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