Do Markets Reduce Prices? Evidence from the U.S. Electricity Sector

60 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2021 Last revised: 20 Jun 2023

See all articles by Alexander MacKay

Alexander MacKay

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Ignacia Mercadal

University of Florida

Date Written: June 19, 2023


We construct a novel dataset on electricity generation, wholesale transactions, and retail sales to assess the shift from cost-of-service regulation to deregulated, market-based prices in the context of the U.S. electricity sector. Consistent with earlier studies, we find that the costs of generation fell in deregulated markets. However, despite lower generation costs, wholesale prices increased along with utilities' overall expenses on energy. The resulting increase in utility costs can explain a substantial portion of the increase in downstream retail prices. Overall, we estimate that the increase in wholesale markups more than offset the efficiency gains, which can occur when markets are not perfectly competitive.

Keywords: Deregulation, Markets, Markups, Market Power, Electricity

JEL Classification: L51, L94, D43, L13

Suggested Citation

MacKay, Alexander and Mercadal, Ignacia, Do Markets Reduce Prices? Evidence from the U.S. Electricity Sector (June 19, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Alexander MacKay (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Boston, MA 02163
United States


Ignacia Mercadal

University of Florida ( email )

PO Box 117140
MAT 332
Gainesville, FL 32606
United States

HOME PAGE: http://

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics