January’s Public Utilities Fortnightly includes 27 pages on our visit to the Maine PUC, including this excerpt by PUC Commissioner Bruce Williamson:
“But some argue that the new answer is usage sensitive pricing like time-of-day rates. If they studied the evolution of telecom pricing in Europe since 1900 and the fate of local measured service pricing in the United States, they’d see that the preference set applies to a minority of users, while other users are willing to pay for the option of using energy when they need to in a uniform flat rate, invariant to time of day or day of week.
“As an economic matter, is usage sensitive pricing of electricity or communication services even appropriate when capacity is unconstrained, and the marginal cost of production is zero? Or if a kilowatt hour can be applied productively, such that its marginal benefit in use is greater than its marginal cost, isn’t society better off putting that kilowatt hour to use?
“What if it provides lighting for a child to read? Or powers a medical device that saves a life?”