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A Champion for Public Power

Fortnightly Magazine - July 1 1996

the answer to most of the issues that arise involving publicly owned power systems, Richardson maintains. Why? States control the activities of their subordinate governments, and they offer a historical, and practical, record.

State commissioners may also prove best suited to deal with sham transactions, Richardson says, circling back to his initial topic: "Maybe what we're seeing is something that might become more common, which is municipal government stepping in and saying 'We're the logical aggregator. If the intent is to get lower rates to all consumers, then maybe it makes sense for us to be the negotiator on behalf of all the citizens within our community.'"

The natural extension of aggregation is power pools, as in Oklahoma, where the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority and the Public Utilities Board of Brownsville, TX, propose a municipal power pool spanning four states.

Besides the benefits open access brings, many functions could be united at the 2,000 municipal

utilities nationwide (em billing,

management, maintenance fleet purchasing.

Does Richardson envision a public-power network?

"I think that's highly unlikely," he says. "They're very dispersed. They're distinct cities and towns."

OK, not now.

But anything is possible.

After all, this is Alan "The Right" Richardson talking here. t

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr. is associate editor of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY. Email: schuler@pur.com.

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