Lessons from the California Electricity Crisis

Frank A. Wolak

in Electricity Deregulation

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2005 | ISBN: 9780226308562
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226308586 | DOI:
Lessons from the California Electricity Crisis

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This chapter analyzes the possible causes of the electricity crisis in California in 2000. It argues against the belief that the crisis was caused by a combination of rising input costs, poor market design, and the exercise of market power and failed market oversight by state and federal regulators, and suggests that the crisis fundamentally a regulatory crisis rather than an economic crisis. This chapter suggests that the most important lesson from the California crisis relates to how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) carries out its statutory mandate to set just and reasonable wholesale prices in a market regime.

Keywords: electricity prices; California; rising input costs; poor market design; market power; market oversight; FEC; regulatory crisis

Chapter.  16326 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Econometrics and Mathematical Economics

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