Telecom and Energy are becoming the same industry Articles: The Stranded Costs Debate
The Brave New World of Deregulated Electricity:

It's Not Just About Google: "Owning the Customer," Default Providers, Automatic Aggregation, Convergency Potential, Bundled Services, and the New Wires Industry

The electric industry has undergone massive restructuring in anticipiation of markets for electricity, and while the political establishment has put a hold on further retail deregulation, the United States is a balkanized patchwork of privately and publicly owned monopolies and unregulated quasi-monopolies, merchant generators, third party-financed developers, and retailers. As California's bipartisan leadership led 25 states to deregulate their electricity monopolies under the banner of "more competition," the industry responded with an unprecedented rate of mergers and acquisitions and using CIA style anti-competitive techniques to block threats to their revenue streams, portending less, not more alternative energy opportunities and competition among suppliers. The result has been a quiet suspension or neglect of competition in most deregulated markets, with bailed out former monopolies now attempting to eliminate any competitive choice and permanently diluting the regulatory authority of state governments in arguably the most important industrial sector.

Meanwhile, as monopoly distribution, or "wires" companies were preserved as monopolies and won statutory and regulatory "default provider" rights over the vast majority of consumers who could not find alternative electricity suppliers, "ownership" of consumers became becoming key to the debate. A new wires industry has formed through new mergers and strategic alliances between electricity providers, telephone companies, security companies and others marketing "bundled services" to wires company-"owned" passive consumers. Meanwhile, political forces have protected anti-competitive utility behavior, confusing both the public and political leaders and using aggressive revisionist tactics and heavily funded public relations campaigns to utterly dominate their would-be competitors.

Latest Orwellian Carbon Fraud: New Transmission Lines Needed for Green Power!

While Climate Change specialists have pointed out the need to decentralize the grid, relocalize renewable power generation and implement aggressive demand reduction technology regimes as key to actuall reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power, the electrical monpolies have successfully miseducated political leaders to push more new transmission lines as essential for developing wind farms, leading even the Obama administration to put monopolies in charge of Smart Grid package funds that would have been committed to reducing energy use, but will now be manhandled to protect the monopolies' bottom line.

The aggressive, unreformed corporate behavior of electrical corporations has not gone unnoticed however. As cities and towns recognized the profound changes accompanying the deregulation of the largest industrial sector (and largest polluter), some local governments have acted and are acting to protect public and community interests as the new post-regulated monopoly industry emerges. With many major energy companies now moving to subvert mandated carbon reductions to avert Climate Crisis in order to protect their bottom lines, public officials from President Obama to mayor pothole both now face the challenge of how to change a recalcitrant, politically hubristic bad-boy culture that could do to the Smart Grid and the President's ambitious energy policy what it did to President Carter and Ken Lay.

For any effective strategy to change this industry, it is key that emerging new leaders for a transformation of America's energy industry learn from the lessons of the past, "or be doomed to repeat them."

Background Articles by Paul Fenn on the Electricity Industry

Climate Panic: Nuclear Revival and Market Fundamentalism (2007)

GAS NIGHTMARE: Senator Feinstein's Plan to Put Ratepayers on the Hook for New Gas-Fired Power Plants to Avert Future Shortages Would Only Make Matters Worse (January, 2004)

BAILOUT BEDLAM: Shameless California Regulators Approve PG&E "Shell Game" Bankruptcy Bailout, Promising "Rate Decrease" but also Higher Electric Bills (December 21, 2003)

THE GOODS: Why San Francisco Can Now Switch Electricity Providers & Convert 1/4 of Entire City to Green Power Without A Rate Increase (September 2003)

GAS CRISIS ARTICLE: Natural Gas Prices Jump as California's Clueless Politicians Call for Construction of New Gas Power Plants to Avert New Energy Crisis (January, 2004)

WRITING ON THE WALL: Natural Gas Power Plants: The Next Bailout Scandal? (Oct 2002)

WORLD RECORD IN CLEAN POWER: Green Mountain Energy Delivers Historic Greenhouse Gas Reduction in Ohio: 450,000 customers around Cuyahoga County Become Nation's Largest Clean Power Purchaser with Community Choice Agreement (Feb 2001)


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