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Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 31, 2017

Mergers and Monopoly: How Concentration Changes the Electricity Business

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/electricity-mergers-and-monopoly/

Photo Credit: Mark Strozier via Flicker (CC2.0) – https://www.flickr.com/photos/r80o/1583421.

Executive Summary

A wave of consolidation has swept across the U.S. economy over the past decade, reshaping already-powerful corporations into financial and political powerhouses. The trend has taken particular hold among electric utilities, a sector where monopoly reigns virtually unchecked.

Consolidated, investor-owned utilities now have service territories that span several states and include millions of customers. They say gobbling competitors delivers operational efficiencies and cost savings. But who sees the benefits? And what are the unspoken costs?

This report explains how concentration of power in monopoly utilities delivers fewer customer benefits than alleged, and how the unmentioned costs of concentrating power in a few firms undermines protection of the public interest.

The House Always Wins

Despite efforts to cast consolidation as customer-friendly, the benefits are heavily weighted in favor of utility shareholders.

Unequal Financial Benefits

Most utility mergers feature large benefits for company shareholders, but much smaller benefits for customers. When Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear power generator, unveiled in 2014 its plan to swallow Washington, D.C.-based utility Pepco in a $6.8 billion deal, it pledged $100 million toward a fund earmarked for rate credits, low-income assistance, and energy efficiency across its multi-state territory. That translates to just $50 per customer, compared with the whopping $1.1 billion that the merger unlocked for Pepco shareholders.

Unspoken Costs to Competition

As they grow larger through consolidation, utilities use their size as cover from competitive markets. Mergers help preserve monopoly utilities’ market share, even amid a dramatic shift in how Americans can generate, consume, and engage with our energy. Continue reading

Featured Article, Event filed under Composting, Waste to Wealth | Written by Brenda Platt | No Comments | Updated on Nov 17, 2017

ILSR Sponsors the 5th National Cultivating Community Composting Forum

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/ccc-2018/

In collaboration with the US Composting Council (USCC) and BioCycle, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance announces two events to be held in conjunction with the USCC’s International Conference and Trade Show, COMPOST2018, in Atlanta: Best Practices in Community Composting Workshop Monday, January 22, 2018   Cultivating Community Composting Forum 2018 Tuesday, January 23, 2018 These events will… Continue reading

Featured Article, Resource filed under The Public Good | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Nov 16, 2017

Supporting Family Farming in the Age of Monopoly with Joe Maxwell (Episode 33)

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/family-farming-blp-episode-33/

“A competitive marketplace is fundamental to how our country should work,” says Joe Maxwell. In recent years, though, many markets have stopped being competitive, including food and farming. In this episode of in this episode of ILSR’s Building Local Power podcast, Maxwell sits down to talk about it with Stacy Mitchell, ILSR’s co-director.

Maxwell, the former Lt. Gov. of Missouri, is now executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets. He’s also the president and CEO of Family Farm Action, a coalition of family farmers and advocates that’s building the “political muscle” to fight for farmers and communities. Continue reading

Featured Article, Resource filed under Composting, Waste to Wealth | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Nov 17, 2017

Self-Reliance and Transformation Through Community Composting — Episode 1 of the Composting for Community Podcast

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/self-reliance-and-transformation-through-community-composting-episode-1-of-the-composting-for-community-podcast/

Welcome to the inaugural Composting for Community podcast! We’re kicking things off with a special 4-episode promotional mini-series for the upcoming 5th National Cultivating Community Composting (CCC) Forum and Workshop in Atlanta. The CCC Forum and Workshop are one-of-a-kind events that bring together community composters from around the country to network and learn how to grow their… Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Nov 15, 2017

Can Puerto Rico Overcome a Colonial Past to Build a Greener Grid?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/puerto-rico-grid-hurricane/

This article was originally published in Greentech Media on November 6th, 2017. Puerto Rico’s history of intervention and mismanagement created a financially disastrous backdrop for Hurricane Maria. On September 20, Hurricane Maria swept across Puerto Rico, destroying its electricity grid. The storm felled half of the cross-island transmission towers. Nine out of 10 back-alley power poles blew… Continue reading