back to all publications

Private risk and social resilience in liberalized electricity markets

CSS Publication Number
Full Publication Date
February 8, 2022

Energy-only electricity markets, such as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), rely on the decentralized investment decisions of market participants to lead to a resource mix providing an efficient level of reliability. During an exceptionally cold winter storm in February 2021, ERCOT experienced shortfalls on an unprecedented scale, with nearly half of the generation fleet experiencing outages at the peak. The depth of the resulting blackouts invites questions regarding the ability of systems relying on decentralized planning to appropriately prepare for and withstand rare events. Based on two mild assumptions, risk aversion among investors and incomplete risk trading, this paper provides an explanation for why decentralized markets are prone to underinvestment in resilience. We describe the nature of the incomplete risk trading that arises in the context of electricity markets and discuss potential remedies, including mandatory contracting obligations for retailers and compensation to end users for unserved energy.

Jacob Mays
Lynne Kiesling
Joshua C. Macey
Blake Shaffer
Han Shu
Research Areas
Energy Systems

electricity market design


resource adequacy

risk trading

incomplete contracting

Publication Type
Journal Article
Digital Object Identifier
Full Citation

Jacob Mays, Michael T. Craig, Lynne Kiesling, Joshua C. Macey, Blake Shaffer, Han Shu, Private risk and social resilience in liberalized electricity markets, Joule, bVolume 6, Issue 2, 2022, Pages 369-380, ISSN 2542-4351. CSS22-48