Sadly my 15 minutes of television fame came over Memorial Day weekend, but you can go watch last Friday’s Newshour with Jim Lehrer story on Illinois electricity. The piece gives a decent overview of the situation in Illinois, where the 10-year-old retail rate freeze has been lifted, inconveniently at a time of rising fuel costs. This has caused affordability problems for many Illinois consumers, and because the Illinois restructuring legislation has done a poor job of inducing competing retailers to enter the market to serve residential customers, there is little competitive discipline on prices.
Naturally, though, politicians want to reintroduce the rate freeze, even though the rate freeze and the lack of retail competition is what got us here in the first place. I’ll have more to say later on other approaches that would actually achieve more robust, dynamic benefits for Illinois residential customers.
Although my interview lasted for 40 minutes, the wee bit of my tape they used articulates a vision of retail competition that I at least hope will get some people thinking differently about the problem, and will start to challenge the fundamental assumptions on which the regulation of the retail sale of electricity service rests.