Deregulation not working for Texas
In Texas, electric deregulation is not working to ensure reliable energy supplies for families and small businesses. This piece from today’s Energy and Environment Daily (click here to read the full story) focuses on the challenges of building new electric generation in a deregulated environment:
HOUSTON — Texas’ main power grid operator saw a new peak in winter demand this week after a blast of below-freezing temperatures raised the possibility of blackouts, highlighting a looming debate over how the state should plan to meet future electricity needs. [...]
Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Dallas’ Southern Methodist University, said generators lack incentive to build new supplies in the state’s deregulated market. Natural gas prices help set the price of power in Texas, and they remain at relatively low levels. Jillson said Texas leaders have a history of listening to business leaders that seek assistance.
“I think we will, without admitting it, move away from deregulation and market-based solutions to a more energetic regulatory structure,” he said. “And that’s what exists in most parts of the country. It’s just that Texas legislators and even regulators are rhetorically and ideologically committed to these free-market themes.”
The need for more generation is clear to an association that represents electric companies. Texas’ population continues to grow and environmental rules may lead to retirements of some plants, said John Fainter, president of the Association of Electric Companies of Texas. The firms Fainter represents get phone calls when service is interrupted, he said.
“We don’t like to get those calls,” Fainter said. “We like to ensure that our customers have a safe and reliable adequate system of supply of electricity at all times, if at all possible.”