When deciding whether to introduce market-based prices into a regulated market, a
regulator faces the following tradeoff: profit incentives may reduce costs through the more
efficient allocation of resources, but the presence of market power may lead to increased
markups. We use a detailed dataset on electricity transactions to investigate the impact
of market-based deregulation in the context of the U.S. electricity sector. We find that the
increase in markups dominates despite modest efficiency gains, leading to higher prices
to consumers. Deregulation does not necessarily lead to lower prices to consumers. A
consumer-oriented regulator may prefer to regulate rates to be consumer friendly, rather
than let prices be subject to market power.

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