Can markets co-exist with renewable mandates?
Bruce W. Radford is editor-in-chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
Part way through the recent conference on electric competition, held Feb. 27 at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) headquarters, in Washington, D.C., it was so quiet you could hear a hockey puck slide across the ice. No, hell had not frozen over. Rather, it was Commissioner Marc Spitzer, who had found a clever story to ease the tension and allay fears that FERC somehow might want to undo the sins of the past, and give up its dream of workable markets for wholesale power:
“My son in his hockey game gave up a couple of goals—a couple of goals early—and instead of playing harder he asked for a do-over. That’s the way with kids. They want do-overs sometimes.”
That was as close as the commission came all day to ordering a do-over in electric competition. When Chairman Joseph Kelliher had asked the opening panel about killing competition—putting the toothpaste back into the tube—M.I.T. economics professor Paul Joskow had ready his convincing reply:
“You can’t put the genie back in the bottle … unless you’re going to expropriate the generators’ property.”
In fact, Commissioner Spitzer echoed that theme a week later, as the guest luncheon speaker at an industry conference in Arlington, Va. (The Thirteenth Annual FERC Briefing, March 7, 2007, sponsored by EXNET.)