Electric Power Restructuring: Notes from Texas and Washington, D.c.

Michael Giberson

There’s evidence that, because of the repeated auctions, generators can figure out each other’s bidding strategies and when the market has to have their power. If a bidder knows the market has to have some of its power, it can name its price.

That’s Marty Schladen, of The Daily News of Galveston, Texas, in another story on electric power in Texas. A couple of weeks back I posted on his multi-part series on Texas power in the paper.

The series was better – this article invokes nameless experts a number of times, but the only real people named are a spokesman for the state utility commission and a spokeswoman for a utility under investigation. Schladen claims, without citing evidence or even unnamed “experts”, that “There is a growing consensus that electricity deregulation hasn’t been a good deal for ratepayers anywhere in the United States,” and “states that started experimenting with it about 10 years ago all saw their rates go up faster than the states that didn’t.”

(In fact, now that I go back to the article, the quoted section up at the head of the post comes completely unattributed, too. The difference, I guess, is that I’m sympathetic to the concerns about repeated auctions and peak period market power, whereas I’m inclined to argue against the broad claims about “hasn’t been a good deal for ratepayers anywhere” and whether or not all states that experimented with deregulation saw rates increase faster than every other state.)

Meanwhile, the Washington Post describes Pepco’s smart meter and peak pricing experiments. I hope this claim is wrong: “Pepco is about to start sending personal e-mail messages to Jonathan and Lauren Schwabish every few hours that could determine when they do the dishes, wash the baby’s clothes or turn on the air conditioner.” If spamming customers is their best idea, I don’t think there is much hope. Fortunately, the other test programs sound more sensible.

5 thoughts on “Electric Power Restructuring: Notes from Texas and Washington, D.c.

  1. I thought it was a little strange too. Probably just an error. The Post’s reporters tend not to be technical. The food chain there is dominated by politics. That’s why we read the NY Times too.

  2. Duncan,

    I fervently hope you do not believe that the “food chain” at the “Rag of Record” is not also “dominated by politics”.

    Arguably, the “Rag of Record” is actually focused on dominating politics, by taking a very active role is setting national policy.

    There are also rumors, as yet unsubstantiated, that the NYT reports news on occasion.

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