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Market Power in Electricity Markets: Beyond Concentration Measures

Severin Borenstein, James Bushnell and Christopher R. Knittel

Year: 1999
Volume: Volume20
Number: Number 4
DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol20-No4-3
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The wave of electricity market restructuring both within the United States and abroad has brought the issue of horizontal market power to the forefront of energy policy. Traditionally, estimation and prediction of market power has relied heavily on concentration measures. In this paper, we discuss the weaknesses of concentration measures as a viable measure of market power in the electricity industry, and we propose an alternative method based oil market simulations that take advantage of existing plant level data. We discuss results from previous studies the authors have performed, and present new results that allow for the detection of threshold demand levels where market power is likely to be a problem. In addition, we analyze the impact of that recent divestitures in the California electricity market will have on estimated market power. We close with a discussion of the policy implications of the results.

Where Did the Money Go? The Cost and Performance of the Largest Commercial Sector DSM Programs

Joseph Eto, Suzie Kito, Leslie Shown, and Richard Sonnenblick

Year: 2000
Volume: Volume21
Number: Number 2
DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol21-No2-2
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Spending on electricity energy-efficiency programs was responsible for most of the growth (and decline), and almost all of the energy savings from U. S. utility demand-side management (DSM) programs between 1990 and 1998. As a result of restructuring, utilities may never again assume such an important role in promoting electricity energy efficiency. However, as governments consider future domestic policies to promote energy efficiency in response to global environmental commitments, the potential of large-scale energy efficiency programs will likely be discussed. This article presents new information on a critical issue that will surely arise in these discussions: how much does it cost to save energy through programs that use monetary incentives and targeted information to influence individual customer decisions? We present findings from a detailed examination of the complete costs and measured energy savings from the largest commercial sector DSM programs operated by U.S. electric utilities in 1992. We extend the methodological considerations first identified by Joskow and Marron (1992) regarding differences among utility cost accounting conventions and savings evaluation methods. We quantify the impact of missing and incomplete data and, to the extent they can be assessed, demonstrate that our assumptions to address them are conservative in that they err on the side of overstating the apparent cost of saved energy. We find that the programs, as a whole, have saved energy at a cost of 3.2c/kWh. When compared to the cost of the energy they allowed the sponsoring utilities to avoid generating or purchasing (in the absence of these programs), we find that the programs, as a whole, are cost effective.

Zonal Pricing in a Deregulated Electricity Market

Mette Bjorndal and Kurt Jornsten

Year: 2001
Volume: Volume22
Number: Number 1
DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol22-No1-3
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In the deregulated Norwegian electricity market a zonal transmission pricing system is used to cope with network capacity problems. In this paper we illustrate some of the problems with the zonal pricing system as it is implemented in Norway. Using small network examples we illustrate the difficulties involved in defining the zones, the redistribution effects of the surplus that a zonal pricing system has, as well as the conflicting interests concerning zone boundaries that are present among the various market participants. We also show that a zone allocation mechanism based on nodal prices does not necessarily lead to a zone system with maximal social surplus. Finally, we formulate an optimization model that when solved yields the zone system that maximizes social surplus given a pre-specification of the number of zones to be used.

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