Rethinking the Price Formation Problem-Part 1: Participant Incentives Under Uncertainty

Brent Eldridge, Bernard Knueven, Jacob Mays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Operators of organized wholesale electricity markets attempt to form prices in such a way that the private incentives of market participants are consistent with a socially optimal commitment and dispatch schedule. In the U.S. context, several competing price formation schemes have been proposed to address the non-convex production cost functions characteristic of most generation technologies. This paper considers how the design and analysis of price formation policies for non-convex markets are affected by the uncertainty inherent in electricity demand and supply. We argue that by excluding uncertainty, the analytical framework underlying existing policies mischaracterizes the incentives of market participants, leading to inefficient price formation and poor incentives for flexibility. We establish favorable theoretical properties of a new construct, ex ante convex hull pricing , and demonstrate the difference between this idealized benchmark and existing methods on a large-scale test system. Given increased operational uncertainty with a transition to wind and solar generation, distortions caused by poor incentives for flexibility are likely to grow without improved price formation in organized wholesale markets.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)480-489
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Energy Markets, Policy and Regulation
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2C00-84454


  • electricity market design
  • non-convexity
  • price formation
  • uncertainty
  • uplift


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