Saturday, February 17, 2007

Invisible Utilities Become Visible

In my volunteer life, I set up talk by Michael Shore of Environmental Defense on Utilities and Utility Reform. It'll take place Thursday, 7 PM at the West Asheville Library.

Then today, I saw this article in the New York Times. Looks like the issue
is getting more relevant every day:

Rising Price of Electricity Sets Off New Debate on Regulation

Utility rates had been capped in Illinois for 10 years, but the state agreed last year to raise them as part of an effort to open up its electricity markets to competition. Maryland, New Jersey and a half dozen other states are also removing caps. But residents in this part of Illinois are seeing some of the biggest rate spikes in the country — in some cases, increases of 100 percent to 200 percent.

The higher rates are touching off a fresh round of national debate over unleashing competitive forces on traditionally regulated electricity markets. Opening up the markets was supposed to lead to savings for consumers. But that did not turn out as regulators predicted. The anticipated competition among energy suppliers never fully emerged as natural gas prices more than doubled in the last decade.

Yet even as the pain of higher utility bills is setting in, the electric power industry is warning of an energy crisis that could rival California’s if higher fuel and plant construction costs cannot be passed onto consumers.

Keep Reading This Article

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