Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pa. leaders have failed to protect us from worst of electricity deregulation

From the Patriot News:
Pennsylvania decision-makers’ poor understanding of the electricity industry led them into a big mistake 13 years ago: Giving up the state’s authority to control electricity-generation prices.

Consumers were promised a competitive retail electricity market that would restrain prices. The warnings that such a market would not develop went unheeded, but they turned out to be correct.

We’re told that today’s electricity prices are at early 1990s levels. That happens to be because prices at that time were off the chart for customers of utilities that invested in nuclear generation. Prices were trending downward by the mid-1990s, and they could have continued downward were it not for capping some rates at high levels in 1999.

Now Pennsylvania is approaching the end of the purported transition to full deregulation, with electricity monopolies still in place.

In the PPL service territory, that will mean a 30 percent rate increase for residential customers in January. Other utilities, such as PECO and FirstEnergy (including Met-Ed and Penelec), will go to full deregulation in January 2011.

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