The AMES Wholesale Power Market Test Bed

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

Last Updated: 8 January 2021

Site Maintained By:
Leigh Tesfatsion
Research Professor & 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 design proposed by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in an April 2003 white paper [FERC 2003] has the following core features:

Versions of FERC's wholesale power market 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 in response to these concerns. Its purpose is to provide a "simple but not too simple" computational laboratory for the systematic experimental study of wholesale power markets restructured in accordance with FERC's market design. AMES is an acronym for Agent-based Modeling of Electricity Systems.

More precisely, AMES has been designed to facilitate research, teaching, and training, not commercial-grade applications. The open source release of AMES is intended to encourage the cumulative development of this test bed by others (as well as ourselves) in directions appropriate for their specific needs. It is also intended to encourage continual dialog with market stakeholders and regulators leading to successive refinements and improvements of the test bed. To further these purposes, AMES has been constructed (in Java/Python) to have an extensible modular architecture and an easily-navigated graphical user interface (GUI).

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 V3.0 and V4.0 at separate developer repositories. Links to all of these sites are provided below.

This AMES homepage provides a detailed description for AMES V2.06, the basic foundation for all subsequent AMES version releases. While AMES V2.06 lacks the sophisticated features of later releases, its simpler form could provide a useful starting point for power market researchers and educators.

Detailed descriptions and downloads for all AMES versions released to date, with summary explanations and comparisons of their features, can be found at the AMES Version Release History Site.

AMES Software Downloads and Supporting Materials

Important Note: 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)