Deregulation, Market Power, and Prices: Evidence from the Electricity Sector
45 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2021 Last revised: 6 Apr 2021
Date Written: April 5, 2021
When deciding whether to introduce market-based prices into a regulated market, a regulator faces the following tradeoff: profit incentives may reduce costs through the more efficient allocation of resources, but the presence of market power may lead to increased markups. We use a detailed dataset on electricity transactions to investigate the impact of market-based deregulation in the context of the U.S. electricity sector. We find that the increase in markups dominates despite modest efficiency gains, leading to higher prices to consumers. Deregulation does not necessarily lead to lower prices to consumers. A consumer-oriented regulator may prefer to regulate rates to be consumer friendly, rather than let prices be subject to market power.
Keywords: Deregulation, Market Power, Markups, Prices, Electricity
JEL Classification: L51, L94, D43, L13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation