The AMES Wholesale Power Market Test Bed

An Open-Source Computational Laboratory
for the Agent-Based Modeling of Electricity Systems

Last Updated: 9 June 2024

Site Maintained By:
Leigh Tesfatsion
Professor Emerita of Economics
Courtesy Research Professor of
    Electrical & Computer Engineering
Heady Hall 260
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa 50011-1054
tesfatsi AT

Integrated T&D System Project
Electricity Market Open-Source Software
Agent-Based Electricity Research
Agent-Based Computational Economics (ACE)
AMES Test Bed Schematic

Software Release Disclaimer:
The AMES Market Package is the software implementation, in Java/Python, of the AMES Wholesale Power Market Test Bed. This software, provided below, is unsupported and provided as-is, without warranty of any kind.

Table of Contents:

AMES Software Overview

The Wholesale Power Market (WPM) Design proposed in 2003 by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC, Notice of White Paper, April 28, 2003) has the following core features:

Versions of FERC's WPM Design have been implemented in seven U.S. energy regions: the Midwest (MISO), New England (ISO-NE), New York (NYISO), the mid-Atlantic states (PJMB), California (CAISO), the southwest (SPP), and Texas (ERCOT).

One key problem for researchers wishing to study these markets is a lack of full transparency regarding market operations. Due in great part to the complexity of the market design in its various actual implementations, the business practices manuals and other public documents released by market operators are daunting to read and difficult to comprehend. A second key problem is that market outcomes are typically posted in a partial and masked form, with a significant time delay. A third key problem is that structural aspects such as grid topology are not publicly released for security reasons. The result is that it is difficult for outsiders (e.g., university researchers) to subject the operation of these markets to systematic performance testing in a compelling manner.

The AMES Wholesale Power Market Test Bed has been developed and released as open-source software in response to these concerns. The acronym AMES stands for Agent-based Modeling of Electricity Systems.

AMES is an agent-based computational platform that facilitates the study of grid-supported centrally-managed wholesale power markets for research, teaching, and training purposes (SlideSet,640KB). In default configuration mode, AMES captures key features of FERC's WPM Design. However, AMES (Java/Python) has deliberately been constructed to have an extensible modular structure. This permits AMES users to implement modifications of FERC's WPM Design, and to undertake performance testing of these modifications by means of systematic computational experiments.

More precisely, AMES facilitates the development and performance testing of designs for grid-supported centrally-managed wholesale power markets at technology readiness levels TRL-1 through TRL-6, as an important prerequisite for pilot studies (TRL-7), field studies (TRL-8), and real-world implementations (TRL-9). The open source release of AMES is intended to encourage the cumulative development of this platform in varied directions by varied power market researchers for varied research purposes. It is also intended to encourage power market researchers to work together with stakeholders and regulators in an open-ended learning process, seeking successive refinements and improvements of power market operations.

The latest AMES release (8/7/2020) is AMES V5.0. Documentation, source code, and test case materials are maintained for AMES V5.0 at a GitHub repository, and are maintained for earlier AMES releases V4.0 and V3.0 at separate developer repositories.

The next section provides annotated pointers to the code/data repositories for AMES V5.0, V4.0, and V3.0. It also provides detailed discussion and code downloads for AMES V2.06, the basic foundation for all subsequent AMES versions. While AMES V2.06 lacks the more sophisticated features of these subsequent AMES versions, its simpler form and easily navigated graphical user interface could provide a useful starting point for power market researchers and educators.

AMES Software Downloads and Supporting Materials

Important Note 1: Detailed comparative descriptions for all AMES versions released to date can be found at the AMES Version Release History Site.

Important Note 2: International users should be aware that AMES uses U.S. formatting (points) for decimal separators, not commas; e.g., 30000.00 rather than 30000,00. Use of commas instead of points for decimals will result in incorrect outcomes and possibly also in error messages indicating "out of bound" numbers. As noted in Step 14 in the Basic AMES Instructions Manual (pdf,632KB), to avoid this problem some international users have reported they found it necessary to include one of the following instructions in the "VMOptions" tab: "-Duser.language=en" "-Duser.region=US" (Win OS); or "-Duser.language=en" (Mac OS).

AMES Market Package--Version 5.0 (Released: 8/7/2020)

ERCOT Test System (Released 8/7/2020): Implemented in part by AMES V5.0

AMES Market Package--Version 4.0 (Released 4/13/2017)

Eight-Zone ISO-NE Test System (Released 11/30/2015): Implemented in part by AMES V4.0

AMES Market Package--Version 3.0 (Released 12/16/2017)

AMES Market Package--Version 2.06 (Released: 5/22/2013)