Impact of Wind, Solar, and Other Factors on Wholesale Power Prices: An Historical Analysis—2008 through 2017
Wholesale power markets have evolved. Some of the most prominent changes over the last decade in the United States include growth in wind and solar, a reduction in the price of natural gas, weakened load growth, and an increase in the retirement of thermal power plants. Here we empirically assess the degree to which wind and solar—among other factors—have influenced wholesale electricity prices. We show that wind and solar have contributed to reductions in overall average annual wholesale electricity prices since 2008, but that natural gas prices have had the largest impact. More notable is that expansion of variable renewable energy has led to significant changes in locational, time of day, and seasonal pricing patterns in some regions. These altered pricing patterns reflect a fundamental shift, and hold important implications for the grid-system value of wind and solar, and for other electric-sector planning and operating decisions.