We analyze a number of unstudied aspects of retail electricity competition. We first explore the implications of load profiling of consumers whose traditional meters do not allow for measurement of their real time consumption, when consumers are homogeneous up to a scaling factor. In general, the combination of retail competition and load profiling does not yield the second best prices given the non price responsiveness of consumers. Specifically, the competitive equilibrium does not support the Ramsey two-part tariff. By contrast, when consumers have real time meters and are billed based on real time prices and consumption, retail competition yields the Ramsey prices even when consumers can only partially respond to variations in real time prices. More complex consumer heterogeneity does not lead to adverse se1ection and competitive screening behavior unless consumers have real time meters and are not rational. We then examine the incentives competitive retailers have to install one of two types of advanced metering equipment. Competing retailers overinvest in real time meters compared to the Ramsey optimum, but the investment incentives are constrained optimal given load-profiling and retail competition. Finally, we consider the effects of physical limitations on the ability of system operators to cut off individual customers. Competing retailers have no incentive to determine the aggregate value of non-interruption of consumers in the zones they serve, preferring instead to free ride on other retailers serving consumers in the same zones.
EXCERPT FROM THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
Almost all bulk electric power in the United States is generated, transported and consumed in an alternating current (AC) network. Elements of AC systems produce and consume two kinds of power: real power (measured in watts) and reactive power (measured in volt-amperes reactive, or var). Real power accomplishes useful work (e.g., running motors and lighting lamps). Reactive power supports the voltages that must be controlled for system reliability.
Reactive power supply is essential for reliably operating the electric transmission system. Inadequate reactive power has led to voltage collapses and has been a major cause of several recent major power outages worldwide. And while the August 2003 blackout in the United States and Canada was not due to a voltage collapse as that term has been traditionally used, the final report of the U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task Force (April 2004) said that “insufficient reactive power was an issue in the blackout.” Dynamic capacitive reactive power supplies were exhausted in the period leading up to the blackout.
Multi-settlement electricity markets typically permit firms to bid increasing supply functions (SFs) in each market, rather than only a fixed price or quantity. Klemperer and Meyer’s (1989) single-market supply function equilibrium (SFE) model extends to a computable SFE model of a multi-settlement market, that is, a single forward market and a spot market. Spot and forward market supply and demand functions arise endogenously under a closed-loop information structure with rational expectations. The closed-loop assumption implies that in choosing their spot market SFs, firms observe and respond optimally to the forward market outcome. Moreover, firms take the corresponding expected spot market equilibrium into account in constructing their forward market SFs. Subgame-perfect Nash equilibria of the model are characterized analytically via backward induction. Assuming affine functional forms for the spot market and an equilibrium selection mechanism in the forward market provides for numerical solutions that, using simple empirical benchmarks, select a single subgame- perfect Nash equilibrium.
Incentives for a supplier in the forward market decompose into three distinct effects: a direct effect attributable solely to the forward market, a settlement effect due to forward contract settlement at the expected spot market price, and a strategic effect arising due to the effect of a firm’s forward market activity on the anticipated response of the firm’s rival. Comparative statics analysis examines the effect of small parameter shocks on the forward market SFs. Shocks that increase the elasticities of equilibrium supply and demand functions tend to make firms more aggressive in the forward market, in that they bid higher quantities at most prices. Expected aggregate welfare for the multi-settlement SFE model is intermediate between that of the single-market SFE model and that of the perfectly competitive case.
Concerns about high natural gas prices, environmental emissions, economic growth and future coal production have catalyzed a growing interest in developing and deploying advanced coal gasification technologies both in the United States and abroad. On February 11, 2004, two of the Kennedy School’s centers, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the Center for Business and Government, sponsored a workshop on the political and financial challenges to the deployment and commercialization of these technologies. The purpose of the workshop was to identify issues that require additional scrutiny and to build a policy foundation for the commercialization of Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technologies for power production. Additional sponsors included the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, the Center for Clean Air Policy, and the National Commission on Energy Policy.