Discussion paper

DP2093 Transmission Rights and Market Power on Electric Power Networks I: Financial Rights

We examine whether and how the allocation of financial transmission rights affects the behavior of electricity generators and electricity consumers with market power in the electricity market. The analysis recognizes that the ultimate allocation of rights is endogenous, depending both on whether transmission rights can enhance market power and the microstructure of the rights market. Three alternative rights market microstructures are examined. The analysis initially focuses on a two-node network where there are cheap supplies available in an exporting region, expensive supplies in an importing region, and a congested transmission link between the two regions. Several other market power configurations are examined in less detail. We find that the allocation of financial rights can enhance the market power of generators at the expensive node and of electricity buyers at the cheap node. Financial rights can also mitigate market power of buyers at the expensive node and of sellers at the cheap node. However, when there is a monopoly at the expensive node, allocating financial rights to it need not affect its behavior since it may extract all of the congestion rents without possessing financial rights. Whether and how many rights will be allocated through the rights market to agents that can use them to enhance market power turns on the microstructure of the rights market and, in particular, on the extent of free riding on the potential monopoly rents accruing to rights holders. Extending the analysis to a three-node network to allow for loop flows does not change the basic results. Alternative regulatory rules that would restrict who can acquire rights are examined. A companion paper extends this analysis to the situation where physical rather than financial rights are utilized and compares the welfare properties of financial and physical rights from a market power enhancement perspective.


Tirole, J and P Joskow (1999), ‘DP2093 Transmission Rights and Market Power on Electric Power Networks I: Financial Rights‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 2093. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp2093