DEFINITION of 'Wholesale Energy '

A term referring to the purchase and sale of energy products – primarily electricity, but also steam and natural gas – in the wholesale market by energy producers and energy retailers. Other participants in the wholesale energy market include financial intermediaries, energy traders and large consumers. Wholesale energy markets developed following the deregulation and restructuring of utilities and electricity markets around the world in the 1990s.

BREAKING DOWN 'Wholesale Energy '

There are independent system operators that coordinate, control and monitor the operation of the energy market. The deregulation of electricity markets and the development of wholesale energy markets have provided end-user benefits such as enhanced reliability, efficient grid dispatch and better price transparency. However, detractors of the wholesale energy concept maintain that it may actually lead to higher prices for retail consumers and can cause artificial shortages such as the California energy crisis of 2000-2001 due to market manipulation.

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