Illinois nominally opened its electricity generation to competition for all consumers as of May 2002. Have we seen much entry? Heard much consumer education? Seen any advertising from competitors? No. It’s been staggeringly disappointing.
But that may change soon. Peoples Energy, our less-than-impressive natural gas former monopoly utility, has contracted with Hess Microgen to provide distributed generation through cogeneration at customer sites. It’s about bloody time. DG, particularly cogeneration, makes both economic and environmental sense because it recycles and uses waste heat created in the electricity generation process. Many regulatory and incumbent monopoly power barriers exist to the extension of DG, even to large industrial consumers who can use cogen to recycle waste heat to heat their facilities, so this is a welcome piece of news. We’ll see how much of an effect it really has.