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Markets versus Regulation: The Efficiency and Distributional Impacts of U.S. Climate Policy Proposals

Sebastian Rausch and Valerie J. Karplus

Year: 2014
Volume: Volume 35
Number: Special Issue
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.35.SI1.11
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Regulatory measures have proven the favored approach to climate change mitigation in the U.S., while market-based policies have gained little traction. Using a model that resolves the U.S. economy by region, income category, and sector-specific technology deployment opportunities, this paper studies the magnitude and distribution of economic impacts under regulatory versus market-based approaches. We quantify heterogeneity in the national response to regulatory policies, including a fuel economy standard and a clean or renewable electricity standard, and compare these to a cap-and-trade system targeting carbon dioxide or all greenhouse gases. We find that the regulatory policies substantially exceed the cost of a cap-and-trade system at the national level. We further show that the regulatory policies yield large cost disparities across regions and income groups, which are exaggerated by the difficulty of implementing revenue recycling provisions under regulatory policy designs. Keywords: Energy modeling, Climate policy, Regulatory policies, Electricity, Transportation, General Equilibrium Modeling

Economic Inefficiencies of Cost-based Electricity Market Designs

Francisco D. Munoz, Sonja Wogrin, Shmuel S. Oren, and Benjamin F. Hobbs

Year: 2018
Volume: Volume 39
Number: Number 3
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.3.fmun
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Some restructured power systems rely on audited cost information instead of competitive bids for the dispatch and pricing of electricity in real time, particularly in hydro systems in Latin America. Audited costs are also substituted for bids in U.S. markets when local market power is demonstrated to be present. Regulators that favor a cost-based design argue that this is more appropriate for systems with a small number of generation firms because it eliminates the possibilities for generators to behave strategically in the spot market, which is a main concern in bid-based markets. We discuss existing results on market power issues in cost- and bid-based designs and present a counterintuitive example, in which forcing spot prices to be equal to marginal costs in a concentrated market can actually yield lower social welfare than under a bid-based market design due to perverse investment incentives. Additionally, we discuss the difficulty of auditing the true opportunity costs of generators in cost-based markets and how this can lead to distorted dispatch schedules and prices, ultimately affecting the long-term economic efficiency of a system. An important example is opportunity costs that diverge from direct fuel costs due to energy or start limits, or other generator constraints. Most of these arise because of physical and financial inflexibilities that become more relevant with increasing shares of variable and unpredictable generation from renewables.

Equilibrium Analysis of a Tax on Carbon Emissions with Pass-through Restrictions and Side-payment Rules

Gabriel Diaz, Francisco D. Munoz, and Rodrigo Moreno

Year: 2020
Volume: Volume 41
Number: Number 2
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.41.2.gdia
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Chile was the first country in Latin America to impose a tax on carbon-emitting electricity generators. However, the current regulation does not allow firms to include emission charges as costs for the dispatch and pricing of electricity in real time. The regulation also includes side-payment rules to reduce the economic losses of some carbon-emitting generating units. In this paper we develop an equilibrium model with endogenous investments in generation capacity to quantify the long-run economic inefficiencies of an emissions policy with such features in a competitive setting. We benchmark this policy against a standard tax on carbon emissions and a cap-and-trade program. Our results indicate that a carbon tax with such features can, at best, yield some reductions in carbon emissions at a much higher cost than standard emission policies. These findings highlight the critical importance of promoting short-run efficiency by pricing carbon emissions in the spot market in order to incentivize efficient investments in generating capacity in the long run.

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