Three Papers on the Effects of Competition in Engery Markets
Choi, Wai Hong
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This thesis comprises three papers examining the impact of competitive pricing or competition on participants in energy markets. The scope of each paper is narrow but focused, dealing with one particular aspect of competition in each market under study. It is hoped that results from these three studies could provide valuable policy lessons to public policy makers in their task to create or maintain competition in different energy markets, so as to improve efficiencies in these markets. The first and second papers examine the load shifting behavior of industrial customers in Ontario under real time pricing (RTP). Using Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) data from 2005 to 2008 and industry-level consumption data from all industrial customers directly connected to the transmission grid, the first paper adopts a Generalized Leontief specification to obtain elasticities of substitution estimates for various industry groups, while the second paper adopts a specification derived from standard consumer theory to obtain price elasticity estimates. The findings of both papers confirm that in some industries, industrial customers who are direct participants of the wholesale market tend to shift consumption from peak to off-peak periods in order to take advantage of lower off-peak prices. Furthermore, in the first paper, a demand model is estimated and there is evidence that the marginal effect of hourly load on hourly price during peak periods is larger than the marginal effect during off-peak periods. An important policy implication from the results of these papers is that while RTP is currently limited to industrial customers, it does have positive spillover effects on all consumers. The third paper uses a unique panel dataset of all retail gasoline stations across five Canadian cities from late-2006 to mid-2007 to examine the effect of local competition on market shares and sales of individual stations. The base empirical specification includes explanatory variables representing the number of same brand stations and the number of different brand stations within a 3km radius to identify brand affiliation effect. It is found that the number of local competitors is negatively correlated with market share and sales. More interestingly, a same brand competitor has a larger marginal impact on market share and sales than a competitor of a different brand. These findings suggest that additional local competition leads to cannibalization of market share among existing stations, rather than create new demand. Another implication is that relying only on the number of different brands operating within a geographic market could understate the competition intensity in the local market.