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Jun 06, 2008


Lee G.

Your problems Thursday may have been caused by the high winds. But I agree that deregulation is a joke perpetrated by crooks masquerading as free market believers.

Aren Cambre

Deregulation is a good idea. Market forces on average deliver far better results than government regulation in ensuring reliability, low price, and choice. This system isn’t a failure just because electricity isn’t free. A few years is but a wink of time for the capital-intensive, slow-moving utility industry.

And I think you’re misunderstanding stuff. Sure, the "grid" and the wires are monopolistic, but the generation isn’t. Simplistically put, TXU, Entergy, etc. only need generate enough power to offset actual consumption. (Yes, I know it's more complex than that, but proper regulation :-) can "shim" through the complexity.) This incentivizes utilities into producing cheaper electricity. I guarantee you, the first utility that delivers cheap electricity in Texas will be rich.

Electric demand is not completely inelastic. We can choose thermostat settings, insulation, energy-efficient lighting and appliance upgrades, etc.

Also, don’t forget spikes in energy prices. Comparatively little of Texas’s power generation comes from cheap coal. See http://www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/tif/energy.html; compare to national average at http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/figes1.html. We’re far more sensitive to price fluctuations in natural gas and oil than the rest of the country. I don’t have time to do the calculations, but I’ll bet that alone accounts for the vast majority of price increases.

Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater!

Lee G.

We might have known that Aren "Traffic Signals Restrict My Sacred Freedom of Movement" Cambre would endorse the confidence trick that deregulators have pulled on Texas consumers. This belief in a "free market" operating serenely above and beyond the manipulations of speculators, crooks, Republicans and other lowlifes is, uh, naive, to put it kindly. There is no such thing as a free market operating independently of human activity in that market, and such a system was made to be gamed by those with influence and legislative protection. Regulation, properly administered and fairly enforced, protects consumers from ripoffs like the one going on now in the electric power business.


It's Saturday morning -- our power has been off since Friday morning at 7 a.m. We boarded our pets and stayed in a hotel last night. Each time I've called TXU and give them my account number/address, they have to have me spell my name and take my telephone number. I'm so annoyed I'm cross eyed. Power outage -- okay, stuff happens. Can't locate a 10 year plus customer in their database? REALLY annoyed.

Jeff Siegel

The argument isn't about regulation vs. deregulation. It's whether deregulation has worked, and it hasn't. Aren says "I guarantee you, the first utility that delivers cheap electricity in Texas will be rich." They're already rich. TXU's revenue in 2006 was more than $10 billion (from hoover.com) and Reliant's was more than $11 billion in 2007. I can keep my thermostat at 80 in the summer (which I do), but it's not going to make deregulation work any better. Deregulation is about competition, not about conservation.

This deregulated market was rigged from day one with the so-called price to beat, which based electricity prices on natural gas prices. That's a failure of the Legislature, and why I'm so angry. They took the campaign cash and didn't think past depositing the money in the bank. Then, when gas prices went down, electric prices didn't -- and legislative leaders were shocked. But why should they be? Electricity providers have no incentive to lower prices. What am I going to do? Go off the grid? Be kind of hard to blog with my hamster-powered generator.

And we're told to be happy about it, because it could be worse. I saw Pat Wood, who used to be the federal energy czar, in Houston at my wind convention last week. He said we should consider ourselves fortunate because electricity prices have only increased by one-third over the same period that gasoline prices have tripled.

With good luck like that, who needs bad luck?

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