Abstract

A Payment Cost Minimization (PCM) auction has been proposed as an alternative to the Offer Cost Minimization (OCM) auction to be used in wholesale electric power markets with the intention to lower the procurement cost of electricity. Efficiency concerns about this proposal have relied on the assumption of true production cost revelation. Using an experimental approach, I compare the two auctions, strictly controlling for the level of unilateral market power. A specific feature of these complex-offer auctions is that the sellers submit not only the quantities and the minimum prices at which they are willing to sell, but also the start-up fees that are designed to reimburse the fixed start-up costs of the generation plants. I find that both auctions result in start-up fees that are significantly higher than the start-up costs. Overall, the two auctions perform similarly in terms of procurement cost and efficiency. Surprisingly, I do not find a substantial difference between less market power and more market power designs. Both designs result in similar inefficiencies and equally higher procurement costs over the competitive prediction. The PCM auction tends to have lower price volatility than the OCM auction when the market power is minimal but this property vanishes in the designs with market power. These findings lead me to conclude that both the PCM and the OCM auctions do not belong to the class of truth revealing mechanisms and do not easily elicit competitive behavior.



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