- Time-based pricing
Time-based pricing refers to a type offer or contract by a provider of a service or supplier of a commodity, in which the price depends on the time when the service is provided or the commodity is delivered. The rational background of time-based pricing is expected or observed change of the supply and demand balance during time. Time-based pricing includes fixed time-of use rates for electricity and public transport, dynamic pricing reflecting current supply-demand situation or differentiated offers for delivery of a commodity depending on the date of delivery (futures contract). Most often time-based pricing refers to a specific practice of a supplier.
Time-based pricing is the standard method of pricing in the tourist industry. Higher prices are charged during the peak season, or during special-event periods. In the off-season, hotels may charge only the operating costs of the establishment, whereas investments and any profit are gained during the high season. (This is the basic principle of the long run marginal cost (LRMC) pricing, see also Long run). Time based pricing is occasionally used by transportation service providers, whereby higher prices are charged during rush-hours, or, alternatively, some type of reduced-rate tickets are invalid at that time.
- time-of-use pricing (TOU pricing), whereby electricity prices are set for a specific time period on an advance or forward basis, typically not changing more often than twice a year. Prices paid for energy consumed during these periods are preestablished and known to consumers in advance, allowing them to vary their usage in response to such prices and manage their energy costs by shifting usage to a lower cost period or reducing their consumption overall;
- critical peak pricing whereby time-of-use prices are in effect except for certain peak days, when prices may reflect the costs of generating and/or purchasing electricity at the wholesale level
- real-time pricing (also: dynamic pricing) whereby electricity prices may change as often as hourly (exceptionally more often). Price signal is provided to the user on an advanced or forward basis, reflecting the utility’s cost of generating and/or purchasing electricity at the wholesale level; and
- peak load reduction credits for consumers with large loads who enter into pre-established peak load reduction agreements that reduce a utility’s planned capacity obligations.
Time-based pricing is recommendable for utilities both in regulated or market based environment. The use of time-based pricing is limited in case of low difference between peak- and off-peak demand, unavailability of adequate time-of-use metering. Also, customer response to time-based pricing should be considered (see: Demand response).
A regulated utility will develop a time-based pricing schedule on analysis of its cost on a long-run basis, including both operation and investment costs. A utility operating in a market environment, where electricity (or other service) is auctioned on a competitive market, time-based pricing will reflect the price variations on the market. Such variations include both regular oscillations due to the demand pattern of users, supply issues (such as availability of intermittent natural resources: water flow, wind), and occasional exceptional price peaks.
Price peaks reflect strained conditions on the market (possibly augmented by market manipulation, see: California electricity crisis) and convey possible lack of investment.
Notes and references
Notes and references
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