- What is unusual about the retail electric power market in Lubbock? Is this regard is Lubbock a harbinger of the industry’s future or a relic of the industry’s past? Why?
This turned out to be my favorite question on the final exam I gave in my electric power industry class.
It wasn’t the most complicated of questions, nor did it elicit the deepest of answers. But most of the answers demonstrated mastery of the fundamental concepts involved in the question and put the Lubbock case into the broader context of industry restructuring. Some students cited possibilities related to distributed energy resources and referred to related readings in ways I had not considered when drafting the question.
Positive surprises are always good when grading page after page after page after page of short essays. Fortunately, I’m done now.
If you’re not from around here, you may be surprised to learn that Lubbock is served by two distribution utilities and most of the city is double-wired (a small part of the city actually can choose from among three distribution companies). Some of the students who grew up in Lubbock thought it was normal to have more than one electric utility in town and to be able to switch if you were unhappy with your current service.
I didn’t keep score while grading, harbinger vs. relic, but the clear preponderance of responses argued that Lubbock’s competitive wires companies were a harbinger of the future. I’m sure most in the industry would regard double-wiring a city as unnecessarily wasteful, and therefore unlikely to happen.
Ten years ago, folks in the phone and cable industries probably thought the same thing.