Sean Casten Counters “Backlash Against Competitive Markets”

Michael Giberson

Writing at environmental commentary site Grist, Sean Casten (CEO of Recycled Energy Development) takes on a few of the critics of deregulation:

In The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi advises that “It is good to know karate. It is good not to know karate. It is not good to know a little karate.” With the price caps now coming off in the few states that partially deregulated their electricity grids, there is a rising backlash against competitive markets, with some of that backlash even coming from normally pro-market groups like The Cato Institute. This backlashers generally argue that partial deregulation has taught us that deregulation doesn’t work in the electric sector. But we ought to remember Mr. Miyagi’s advice, lest we draw the wrong lessons from our little bit of karate.

Casten takes on claims concerning high prices in deregulated states and the supposed greater efficiency of vertically integrated utilities, and he argues for overcoming state laws that act as barriers to cogeneration businesses.

Casten concludes with a rousing, “What the world needs now is more deregulation, not less.” Which is, of course, just the sort of thing that the Cato Institute almost always advocates (even if they don’t always articulate the point explicitly).