House Energy and Power Subcommittee takes a look at the Federal Power Act; one small suggestion for reform

As had been announced in June of this year, the Energy and Power subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives is devoting some time to a deep look into the Federal Power Act (FPA). At the time of the June announcement the committee sent a letter to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) saying: As you know, the … More House Energy and Power Subcommittee takes a look at the Federal Power Act; one small suggestion for reform

Smart meters help consumers avoid wasting money on energy efficiency

Analysis of a randomised-controlled trial on a sample of almost 2500 Irish households revealed one surprising result: compared to the control group, households provided with a smart meter, detailed feedback on usage, and time-of-use pricing reduced investment in energy efficiency projects. While this unexpected development appears treated by the researchers as an embarrassment to be overcome, the result should … More Smart meters help consumers avoid wasting money on energy efficiency

Texas PUC continues look at “gaming the rankings” problem on state website. Here’s my solution.

Last week the commissioners of the Texas Public Utility Commission once again complained about retail power suppliers who gamed the ranking system on the state’s retail electric power shopping website http://www.powertochoose.org. This post summarizes the problem and then offers a simple solution. From the Houston Chronicle: Texas’ utility commissioners complained Thursday about confusing or misleading … More Texas PUC continues look at “gaming the rankings” problem on state website. Here’s my solution.

PJM report says the regional power market works, doesn’t always give regulators what they want

PJM has issued a report that, no surprise, finds the regional power promotes efficiency in operation and offers the right incentives for market entry and exit. The report does a few things, but none perhaps as useful as reminding policymakers that transparent, well-functioning markets do not always deliver the outcomes they wish for. From the … More PJM report says the regional power market works, doesn’t always give regulators what they want

Elementary error misleads APPA on electricity pricing in states with retail electric choice

The American Public Power Association (APPA) recently published an analysis of retail power prices, but it makes an elementary mistake and gets the conclusion wrong. The APPA analysis, “2014 Retail Electric Rates in Deregulated and Regulated States,” uses U.S. Energy Information Administration data to compare retail electric prices in “deregulated” and “regulated” states. The report itself presents … More Elementary error misleads APPA on electricity pricing in states with retail electric choice

How can the market price of oil fall so far so fast?

If the oil market is reasonably efficient, then the price of a barrel of oil should reflect something like the cost of production of the highest-cost barrel of oil needed to just satisfy demand. In other words, the market price of oil should reflect the marginal cost of production. The price of oil on the world … More How can the market price of oil fall so far so fast?

When does state utility regulation distort costs?

I suspect the simplest answer to the title question is “always.” Maybe the answer depends on your definition of “distort,” but both the intended and generally expected consequences of state utility rate regulation has always been to push costs to be something other than what would naturally emerge in the absence of rate regulation. More … More When does state utility regulation distort costs?