Urban Regional

California's Electricity Crisis by Sweeney J.L.

By Sweeney J.L.

For policymakers and others with a major curiosity in getting past finger-pointing, Sweeney (management technology and engineering, Stanford U.) itemizes the chain of occasions that led California to restructure its electrical energy procedure, the factors for the failure of that restructuring in 2001, and classes for the long run.

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Example text

However, such a bid could result in the firm selling electricity at a price lower than its marginal cost and thus losing money. Therefore, for a firm operating competitively, bidding a price equal to its marginal cost would lead to the greatest profit. 38 This system was designed to simulate a perfectly competitive commodity market in which a price would be known and each firm would be able to sell its commodity at that price. It would choose to do so if its marginal cost (including any opportunity cost) were lower than its price.

Because the system had been newly designed, it was reasonable to expect that some elements would be flawed and thus require modification. In addition, because the particular market institutions and the relationship between these institutions could not initially be completely understood, significant risks were associated with these wholesale markets. THE CALIFORNIA POWER EXCHANGE (PX) The investor-owned utilities and the CPUC developed, and the FERC approved, plans for the PX and for the wholesale markets that the PX would manage.

That charge could not be bypassed: even if a customer were no longer served by the utility, whatever entity sold that customer electricity would be required to collect the competition transition charge. Thus, although the total amount of money collected by the competition transition charge would depend on the total amount of electricity sold at retail, it would not depend on whether the incumbent utility or some other firm sold the electricity. The utility would receive all money collected through the competition transition charge, allowing it to recover stranded costs.

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