Suppose you want to reduce emissions
of carbon dioxide to lessen the chance
of global warming. Should you (a) prohibit coal burning in electric power plants, (b) encourage coal use for power generation, or (c) force electric generators to pay an "externality" surcharge to reflect the cost of CO2 emissions?Here's another one. You are an independent power producer. You want to compete more effectively against utility generation, so you: (a) encourage unbundling of electric transmission, (b) build more gas-fired plants, or (c) hire a clever rate-of-return witness to testify in utility rate cases?
Let's try one more. The purpose of deregulation is to: (a) encourage competition, (b) increase efficiency, (c) remove restrictions on mergers so utilities can consolidate and form giant companies with regional scope that will force weaker firms out of business?
Let 'em Burn Coal
In early October, at the annual meeting of the Mid-Continent Area Power Pool (MAPP), I heard a presentation by North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, formerly an attorney at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a woman who gives new meaning to the term "eco-feminist." Heitkamp can also claim honors for convincing the North Dakota legislature to pass the first state law prohibiting utilities from raising electric rates to recover costs associated with environmental externalities. As Heitkamp says, "What exactly is a PUC's expertise in global warming, and why should we defer to it?"