He’s ba-a-ack! Another NYT Article on Electric Industry Restructuring

Michael Giberson

David Cay Johnston is back with another in his series of articles on electric industry restructuring, this one concerning transmission congestion.

Another important sign of worsening congestion is a sharp increase in requests by network operators to prevent overloads that could disrupt transmission on the PJM Interconnection, the network serving 51 million people from New Jersey to Illinois. There were 2,397 such requests last year, up from just 50 in 2004.

So from about once per week to nearly 7 times a day. You might think that such a dramatic increase, from 50 to 2,397 “requests,” would be accompanied by additional explanation. Or perhaps a revealing anecdote. Or something. Anything, really. You might think that, but you would be wrong.

More or less Johnston presents the official story: investment is down since the 1970s and congestion is up. Competition is worsening the problem because of a need to bring distant, cheap power to market. Costs are going up, especially for places like Chambersburg, PA, in the middle of an organized regional power market.

Read closely so you don’t miss the criticism of uniform clearing price markets (which, gasps and horrors, tends to increase the profits of more efficient power producers!).

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