Braided Cobwebs: Cautionary Tales for Dynamic Retail Pricing in End-to-End Power Systems

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Thomas, Auswin
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Tesfatsion, Leigh
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The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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This study investigates the effects of dynamic-price retail contracting on end-to-end power system operations. Performance is evaluated by means of carefully defined metrics for system stability, market efficiency, and market participant welfare. The study is carried out for an Integrated Retail and Wholesale (IRW) Test Case for which households have smart (price-responsive) air-conditioning (A/C) systems. A simplified version of the IRW Test Case with a directly postulated linear household demand curve is first used to derive, analytically, a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for system stability under dynamic-price retail contracting. A key finding is that dynamicprice retail contracts induce braided cobweb dynamics consisting of two interwoven cycles for power and price outcomes that can exhibit point convergence, limit-cycle convergence, or divergence depending on a small set of structural parameters. Outcomes are then reported for a dynamic welfare sensitivity study undertaken using the full IRW Test Case with smart household A/C systems. One surprising finding is that dynamic-price retail contracts with a positive price mark-up result in worse welfare outcomes for generators and household residents than flat-rate retail contracts for treatments exhibiting convergent cobweb dynamics.