Abstract

This study of the wholesale electricity market compares the efficiency performance of the auction mechanism currently in place in U.S. markets with the performance of a proposed mechanism. The analysis highlights the importance of considering strategic behavior when comparing different institutional systems. We find that in concentrated markets, neither auction mechanism can guarantee an efficient allocation. The advantage of the current mechanism increases with increased price competition if market demand is perfectly inelastic. However, if market demand has some responsiveness to price, the superiority of the current auction with respect to efficiency is not that obvious. We present a case where the proposed auction outperforms the current mechanism on efficiency even if all offers reflect true production costs. We also find that a market designer might face a choice problem with a tradeoff between lower electricity cost and production efficiency. Some implications for social welfare are discussed as well.

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