Stanford University Faculty
Frank Wolak is the Holbrook Working Professor of Commodity Price Studies in the Economics Department and the Director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University. He received his undergraduate degree from Rice University, and an S.M. in Applied Mathematics and Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University. He specializes in the study of privatization, competition and regulation in network industries such as electricity, telecommunications, water supply, natural gas, and postal delivery services. Wolak’s recent research has focused on design and monitoring of energy and environmental markets.
From April 1998 to April 2011, he was Chair of the Market Surveillance Committee (MSC) of the California Independent System Operator. In this capacity, he has testified numerous times at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and at various Committees of the US Senate and House of Representatives on issues relating to market monitoring and market power in electricity markets. Topics addressed in this testimony include: FERC’s role in the design of the California electricity market, the factors leading to the California electricity crisis, the role of the Enron trading strategies in the California electricity crisis, and lessons from the California electricity crisis and Enron bankruptcy for the design of effective regulatory oversight of wholesale energy markets.
Wolak has worked on the design and regulatory oversight of the electricity markets internationally in Europe in England and Wales, Italy, Norway and Sweden, and Spain; in Australia/Asia in New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Korea, and Philippines; in Latin American in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru, and Mexico; and the US in California, New York, Texas, PJM, and New England. He has contributed to the design of market monitoring protocols in a number of electricity markets. He was commissioned by the Colombian government to design an independent market monitoring committee for the Colombian electricity supply industry. He was commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank to develop market monitoring protocols for the Central American electricity market. The Swedish competition authority commissioned him write a research report on the co-ordination of competition policy and electricity market monitoring in European countries. He worked on the design of market monitoring protocols for the Philippines electricity market. He was commissioned by the Brazilian electricity market operator to assess the performance of the short-term price determination process. He performed a multi-year a study commissioned by the New Zealand Commerce Commission on the state of competition in the New Zealand wholesale electricity market.
Wolak has worked on the design of transmission planning, expansion, and pricing protocols to enhance wholesale electricity competition and support the expansion of renewable energy resources in the United States and in the Australia, Canada, Chile, Peru, and the United Kingdom. He was involved in the development of the California ISO’s Transmission Economic Assessment Methodology (TEAM) and recently completed a study for the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) on the re-design of the transmission protocols for the United Kingdom electricity supply industry.
Wolak was a member of the Emissions Market Advisory Committee (EMAC) for California’s Market for Greenhouse Gas Emissions allowances from January 2012 to December 2014. This committee advised the California Air Resources Board on the design and monitoring of the state’s cap-and-trade market for Greenhouse Gas Emissions allowances.