Washington State Studies Electric Competition
Meeting its Dec. 31 deadline, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission delivered to the state legislature its "Electricity System Study 6560", a joint effort with the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED) as required by Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6560, on retail electrical consumer protection.
The study contains a wealth of statistical information about the state's public and private utilities, including rate and cost comparisons and company-specific analyses of: (a) the most well-funded and successful energy efficiency and demand-side management programs and (b) distribution service reliability, presenting indices for system average interruption frequency and duration. For more details, see http://www.energy.cted.wa.gov/6560/.
As the study notes, Washington's power market is unique - boasting below-average rates without state-issued franchises or other legally mandated inflexible service territory boundaries between utilities. The Bonneville Power Administration also plays a major role.
As Washington Governor Locke has said, "Electrical deregulation is a freight train that will hit the Northwest. The real issue: BPA generates power at incredibly cheap rates. The Northwest preference gives us an edge but users elsewhere want a piece of the action."
Who Gets the Windfall?
One customer coalition, the Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities, summarized the problem with deregulating below-cost rates.