Heeding Albus Dumbledore’s Wisdom
Steve Mitnick is President of Lines Up, Inc., Editor-in-Chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly, and author of “Lines Down: How We Pay, Use, Value Grid Electricity Amid the Storm.”
Each month, here, in this very spot, the History Repeats column takes a look back on the large moments in the history of utility regulation and policy. And in doing so, we seek the lessons of history that might be applicable to the practice of pursuing the public interest in the present and the years ahead.
This month we choose to consider the past, present, and future of choice. Or rather, to be more precise, we mean to consider herein the past, present, and future of policymakers' choice — in about a quarter of the states — to allow choice.
Definitions come first. For who did policymakers in these states allow choice? And, what did policymakers allow the who to choose?
In this essay, the who are households. Ok. But what are households in these states allowed by policymakers to choose? Each household, whether in New Hampshire or New York, for example, is allowed to choose who supplies it with the stuff - generated electric power - which travels through the local utility's wires to that household, animating the home's machines, appliances and devices.