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Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Dec 22, 2017

New Year’s Resolutions for Utility Regulators

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/new-years-resolutions-for-utility-regulators/

Shocking investigative reports published this month highlight our longstanding concerns about deficient oversight of growing utility monopolies. Utilities consistently game the system to win massive benefits for shareholders and executives at the expense of electric customers and their communities. Charleston, SC, is on the hook for $1.2 million in payments for a now-defunct nuclear power plant — enough to cover starting salaries for 26 police officers. The Roper Hospital there pays $43,000 per month for a power plant that will never produce a single kilowatt-hour.

The costly failure of the South Carolina power plant happened despite state oversight of the project, and approvals for nine rate hikes to cover the $9 billion tab. Meanwhile, top utility executives received performance bonuses. Similar failures of public oversight plague regulators in Florida, Georgia, and Indiana, helped along by lawmakers who allowed utilities to make risky bets with customer money. We believe our system can, and should, work better in 2018. We offer these new year’s resolutions for state regulatory commissioners.

As a public utility commissioner in 2018, I resolve to:

  • Require shareholders to take on risk equal to (or greater than) customers when a utility builds new infrastructure.

  • Require utility shareholders — not customers — to eat the cost of mismanagement, including cost overruns.

  • Require utilities to offer net metering with retail rate compensation or an equivalent value of solar payment–modeled on Minnesota’s value of solar–to promote customer choice.

  • Prevent utilities from imposing fixed fees that reduce the incentive to conserve and undermine the value of customer-owned renewable generation.

  • Require utilities to file tariffs for inclusive energy financing, providing customers universal access to capital for on-site energy improvements, including rooftop solar.

This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell or Karlee Weinmann on Twitter or get the Energy Democracy weekly update.

 

Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Nov 28, 2017

Electric Vehicles Unlock Local Energy Benefits, Deliver Cost Savings — Episode 51 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/local-energy-benefits-electric-vehicles-episode-51-of-local-energy-rules-podcast/

It’s no secret that electric vehicles have gone mainstream. From quarter to quarter, U.S. sales numbers consistently hover near or above record levels. Cities are trading in their gas-powered fleet vehicles and buses. And major auto manufacturers are planning for an electrified future. But the shift toward electric vehicles means more than cleaner, greener transportation…. Continue reading

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/

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… 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

Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 30, 2017

Six Reasons Your Next Car Should Be Electric

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/6-reasons-electric-car/

Learn the six biggest reasons why your next vehicle should be an electric vehicle, pulled from our comprehensive report, Choosing the Electric Avenue. Hint: it’s cost-effective, environmentally sound, and has all the same benefits of your gas-powered car! Continue reading