With few regrets, a regulator steps down from the PUC, still touting his brand of electric competition.
I'm proud to have been an author of the first chapter of a book still being written.
Today's electric industry is more competitive, more reliable, more efficient, and more dynamic than it was six years ago when I joined the California Public Utilities Commission. However, the future of the industry has not been set. The steps taken over the next several years will determine the outcome of electric competition.
Six years ago, as President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 1992, the California commission asked its Division of Strategic Planning to study competitive conditions in the electric industry. That request led eventually to the "Yellow Book," a report known in more formal terms as California's Electric Industry: Perspectives on the Past and Strategies for the Future. In its report, the DSP outlined four possible options for the commission. One was identified simply as "Strategy D: A Restructured Utility Industry." That option is not that far off the mark from where we are today.
These two events, EPAct and the Yellow Book, would fundamentally and permanently alter the electric utility industry.
Nevertheless, when I joined the commission five years ago, the idea of "retail wheeling" (as direct access was then known) was not yet acceptable as cocktail party chatter amongst the electricity intelligentsia. Such musing was often denigrated by industry experts (em patronized as an intellectual exercise and ultimately dismissed as the folly of people who did not understand the business.
Yet today, there is retail competition in California.
Dispelling Old Myths