Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Has Electric Deregulation Failed?

Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette:

Maryland state lawmakers, irate over a 72 percent jump in electric bills, vote to fire the state's Public Service Commission. Courts block the move.

Ohio, fearing double-digit rate increases, backs off market-based pricing and stabilizes rates through 2008.

The Illinois House votes to roll back Commonwealth Edison's rates after they go up 22 percent when caps designed to ease customers into deregulation are lifted. ComEd warns it will go bankrupt if the state doesn't face up to free market realities.

Virginia lawmakers prepare to pull the plug on deregulation, negotiating terms for returning regulatory power to the State Corporation Commission.

It's not exactly the laissez-faire paradise states bought into when they deregulated energy markets. The thinking was that freeing consumers of their regulated power provider would create competition -- and lower prices. The capitalist cornucopia envisioned hasn't come to pass in many states, including Pennsylvania, where the state's seven electric companies have until 2010 to complete deregulation.