Federal Energy Regulatory Commission skip navigation

Text Size small medium large
Energy Price Formation

FERC continues to evaluate issues regarding price formation in the energy and ancillary services markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) and Independent System Operators (ISOs). FERC staff convened workshops in the fall of 2014 to commence a discussion with industry on the existing market rules and operational practices related to the following topics below. Details of those workshops can be found in the links to the right. Staff also issued a request for comments under Docket No. AD14-14-000 PDF and Comments Received.

  • Use of uplift payments: Use of uplift payments can undermine the marketís ability to send actionable price signals. Sustained patterns of specific resources receiving a large proportion of uplift payments over long periods of time raise additional concerns that those resources are providing a service that should be priced in the market or opened to competition.

  • Offer price mitigation and offer price caps: All RTOs/ISOs have protocols that endeavor to identify resources with market power and ensure that such resources bid in a manner consistent with their marginal cost. As a backstop to offer price mitigation, RTOs/ISOs also employ offer price caps that are designed to be consistent with scarcity and shortage pricing rules. These protocols require that the RTO/ISOís measure of marginal cost be accurate and allow a resource to fully reflect its marginal cost in its bid. To the extent existing rules on marginal cost bidding do not provide for this, bids and resulting energy and ancillary service prices may be artificially low.

  • Scarcity and shortage pricing: All RTOs/ISOs have tariff provisions governing operational actions (e.g., dispatching emergency demand response, voltage reductions, etc.) to manage operating reserves as they approach a reserve deficiency. These actions often are tied to administrative pricing rules designed to reflect degrees of scarcity in the energy and ancillary services markets. In addition, in the event of an operating reserve shortage, all RTOs/ISOs have adopted separate administrative pricing mechanisms designed to set prices that reflect the economic value of scarcity. To the extent that actions taken to avoid reserve deficiencies are not priced appropriately or not priced in a manner consistent with the prices set during a reserve deficiency, the price signals sent when the system is tight will not incent appropriate short- and long-term actions by resources and loads.

  • Operator actions that affect prices: RTO/ISO operators regularly commit resources that are not economic to address reliability issues or un-modeled system constraints. Some activity may be necessary to maintain system reliability and security. However, to the extent RTOs/ISOs regularly commit excess resources, such actions may artificially suppress energy and ancillary service prices or otherwise interfere with price formation.

Use of Uplift
Elizabeth Topping
Telephone: 202-502-6731
Email: elizabeth.topping@ferc.gov

Offer Price Mitigation, Offer Price Caps and Operator Actions
Emma Nicholson
Telephone: 202-502-8846
Email: emma.nicholson@ferc.gov

Scarcity/Shortage Pricing
Robert Hellrich-Dawson
Telephone: 202-502-6360
Email: bob.hellrich-dawson@ferc.gov
RTO/ISO Regions Prior Conferences
  • December 9, 2014 - FERC Staff to Convene Workshop on Workshop on Operator Actions Event Details
  • October 28, 2014 - FERC Staff to Convene a Workshop on Shortage Pricing, Offer Mitigation, and Offer Caps Event Details
  • September 8, 2014 - Workshop on Uplift in Energy and Ancillary Services Markets Operated by RTOs/ISOs Event Details
  • April 1, 2014 - Winter 2013-2014 Operations and Market Performance in RTOs/ISOs (AD14-8-000) Event Details
  • September 25, 2013 - Centralized Capacity Markets in RTOs/ISOs (AD13-7-000) Event Details

Updated: April 30, 2015