Measuring Windfall Profits to Coal-Fired Electricity Generators from Free Emission Permit Allocations
23 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2021
Date Written: December 3, 2021
Introducing climate change policies such as carbon pricing can bring substantial costs for fossilfuel- fired electricity generators, with incumbents often granted a transitional allocation of free emission permits. The free allocation of emission permits and the passthrough of carbon prices to higher electricity prices has created substantial concern that these policies allow emissions-intensive firms to reap windfall profits. We use the implementation and later repeal of Australia’s price on carbon to show that coal-fired plants which received free permits had a substantial increase in their operating profits. This result supports calls for any transitional climate policy assistance to be tied to passthrough rates in order to avoid creating wealth transfers from taxpayers to emission-intensive generator owners.
Keywords: Environmental Taxes, Cost Passthrough, Policy Grandfathering, Electric Utilities, Energy and Environmental Policy
JEL Classification: H23, L94, Q41, Q58
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation