Journal of Energy Markets

Facilitating appropriate compensation of electric energy and reserve through standardized contracts with swing

Deung-Yong Heo and Leigh Tesfatsion

  • We propose standardized contracts (SCs) with swing (flexible contract terms) for power services
  • SCs permit separate market-based compensation for service availability & service performance
  • SCs provide a fair way for all potential service providers to offer flexible service availability
  • SCs provide system operators with real-time flexibility in service usage


Three key issues have arisen for centrally managed wholesale electric power markets in Europe and the United States as they attempt to handle an increased penetration of variable energy resources. First, rigid definitions for energy and reserve products make it difficult to ensure appropriate compensation for important required flexibility in start-up times, ramp rates, power dispatch levels and duration. Second, participation restrictions hinder the achievement of an even playing field for potential providers of flexible services. Third, reliance on out-of-market compensation for the provision of some valued services encourages strategic manipulation. This study examines the possibility of addressing these three issues through the introduction of standardized energy and reserve contracts with swing (flexibility) in their contractual terms. Concrete examples are used to demonstrate howthe trading of these standardized contracts can be supported by linked forward markets in a manner that permits efficient real-time balancing of net load subject to system and reserve-requirement constraints. Comparisons with existing wholesale electric power markets are given, and key policy implications are highlighted.

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