How to Help Them Understand the New Competitive Marketplace
Tom Sloan is serving his eleventh term in the Kansas House of Representatives. He earned a doctorate in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and served on the Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee and the GridWise Architecture Council. He is a leading member of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ and Council of State Governments’ energy and environment committees. He also serves on the Federal Communications Commission’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.
The electric generation system evolves as distributed generation capabilities become more prevalent and cost-effective. Personal communications devices and applications permit customers and utilities to interact on almost an equal basis through transactive energy systems.
Energy efficiency and conservation competes with renewable energy for policy and economic primacy. Policy-makers and regulators struggle to keep up. And I am struck by an irony.
This country began with each household and business being responsible for generating its own heat and light. We moved from burning wood and whale oil on the east coast, and burning buffalo chips and candles in the Midwest, to hydropower fueling mechanical systems, to multiple competing electric generators in cities.
Ultimately, the electric industry consolidated, became vertically integrated, and the regulatory model was developed by political policy-makers to balance competing utility and consumer interests. While taking different forms, an identifiable regulatory or political oversight process applies to investor-owned, cooperative, and municipal systems.