Counterpart choice in emission permits markets: beyond pollution abatement motives

Maria-Eugenia Sanin (University of Evry-Val d’Essonne)



This paper examines the determinants of electricity generator's trading strategies in the U.S. Acid Rain Market. Model estimates show that the SO2 allowances market is de facto regionalized due to the regionalization of the electricity market. The national dimension only appears when there are local imbalances in the electricity market that give strong incentives to search for a better deal outside of the generator's regional market. We also identify the importance of counterpart differentiation and the influence on the counterpart choice of the regulatory framework, market evolution and transaction size. These findings are shown to be robust to Enron's abnormal behavior during 2000-2001 and its subsequent bankruptcy. The results suggest that, contrary to received knowledge, abatement costs are not the only consideration when trading pollution allowances: market microstructure can play a crucial role.