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Designing Competitive Wholesale Electricity Markets for Latin American Countries

The purpose of this paper is to present a general framework for electricity market design in Latin American Countries (LACs) that addresses the current problems facing electricity supply industries (ESIs) in this region. The major issue addressed is what market rules, market structures, and legal and regulatory institutions are necessary to establish a competitive wholesale market that provides the maximum possible benefits to consumers consistent with the long-term financial viability of the ESI. The paper first presents a theoretical foundation for analyzing the electricity market design problem. A generic principal-agent model is presented and its applicability to the electricity market design problem explained. It is then applied to illustrate the incentives for firm behavior under regulation versus market environments. The impact of government versus private ownership on firm behavior in both market and regulated environments is also addressed using this model. Using the experiences from ESI reform in developed countries, the paper presents essential features of a successful wholesale electricity market. The paper then takes on the issue of the specific challenges to LAC restructuring. A major theme of this section is a warning that short-term solutions to market design flaws can have longterm market efficiency costs. The report closes with a proposed market design that should serve as a baseline market design for all LACs. Deviations from this basic design could be substantial depending on initial conditions in the industry and the country, but the ideal behind proposing this design is to have a useful starting point for all LAC restructuring processes.

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Frank Wolak
Publication Date
November, 2006