The production and distribution of electricity

The electric power industry covers the generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electric power to the general public and industry. The commercial distribution of electric power started in 1882 when electricity was produced for electric lighting. In the 1880s and 1890s, growing economic and safety concerns lead to the regulation of the industry. Once an expensive novelty limited to the most densely populated areas, reliable and economical electric power has become an essential aspect for normal operation of all elements of developed economies.


Block Attacks Rockwell for 'Extremism', by Walter Block, 28 Jul 2006
A tongue-in-cheek commentary by Block on Rockwell's article about blackouts and demand for privatizing utilities
"The latest example of this extremist nonsense ... is a horrendous little piece in which he has the temerity to call for the complete privatization of, would you believe it, electrical utilities. ... The blackouts that have lately been bedeviling consumers in New York and California do demonstrate that all is not well with our present system of delivering electrical power. ... Let those people suffering from brownouts and blackouts live in '90-degree houses and sleep in puddles of sweat.' ... High on this list is maintaining our present socialist system of electronic power distribution ..."
California LP targets utility taxes with "Operation Energy Tax Revolt", Libertarian Party News, Jan 2002
"Over the past year, the state legislature has sent energy prices soaring by piling regulations on energy companies in the wake of California's electricity crisis ... 'We don't believe local governments should benefit monetarily because of state government regulations that drive up prices for consumers,' said Starr ..."
California's Energy Meltdown, by George Reisman, The Free Market, Mar 2001
Examines the causes underlying the problems of California's electric power system, countering those who claim they were due to deregulation and the free market
"Destructionist government policy has increasingly restricted the supply of electric power ... throughout the United States. For the last twenty years or more, there have been no new atomic power plants constructed and few or no new coal, oil, or hydroelectric power plants built. ... Moreover, the government-caused dependence on natural gas as the source of fuel for power plants has contributed to the sharp rise in the price of natural gas to record levels. ... Over the same period that the government has restricted the supply ..., there has been a substantial increase in the demand for electric power."
Central Planning of Electricity Must Fail, by Sheldon Richman, 20 Aug 2003
Explains why deregulation (or the "free market") was not responsible for the Northeastern U.S. blackout of 2003
"California, the land of alleged power deregulation, is often used to indict free markets. There the authorities froze retail electricity prices even when wholesale prices were rising. (Other stifling regulations were also imposed on every stage of the industry.) ... When higher demand would have raised prices, signaling to end-users that they should conserve, government price controls kept those users from getting the message. Demand continued to rise, squeezing utilities, whose prices were not capped, until a crisis hit."
Orchestrating Energy Disaster, by Walter E. Williams, 23 May 2001
Discusses the problems in California's electric power industry, deriding comments by Paul Krugman and columnist Robert Scheer that the problems were due to "deregulation", and emphasizing the benefits of federalism
"Bankrupting California electric utility companies could have been figured out by a 4-year-old. First, in the name of deregulation, incentives were created for utility companies to stop generating their own power. California utilities companies were producing 72 percent of their power, now it's 20 percent. The state mandated that Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) in the North and Southern California Edison in the South charge electricity customers 12.5 cents per kilowatt hour, which the utility companies had to purchase on 'spot' markets for as much as 75 cents per kilowatt hour."
The Experimental Economist: Nobel laureate Vernon Smith takes markets places they've never been before, by Vernon L. Smith, Nick Gillespie, Michael W. Lynch, Reason, 9 Oct 2002
Topics discussed include law (discovered vs. formally made), experimental economics, electric power, demand-interrupt pricing, airport landing and takeoff slots, NASA missions, libertarianism and economics
"Let's say you're creating a market for wholesale electricity. You have buyers and sellers of power at different nodes in an electric power network. People put in location-specific asking prices to sell power; they've got to be location-specific because power grids leak, and depending on where you are on the network, your costs will be different. ... A computer essentially takes all the asks, all the bids, and all the location costs and it maximizes the gains from trade. ... We did experiments for this sort of system in Australia in 1993 and again in '96. ... Australia ended up deregulating its electric power industry ..."
UpdThe Futility of State-Directed "Market Reform": Deregulation, by Kevin Carson, 6 Aug 2013
Analyzes how so-called "deregulation" actually works, with examples from electrical utilities
"Consider ... electrical power "deregulation" in Texas ten years ago. After deregulation, the actual power plants continued to be owned by the same handful of incumbent utilities that owned them before. [These] were divided up into the firms which owned the power plants, those which owned the transmission lines and poles and did the meter reading, and the billing companies. The same monopoly structure continued ... in the generation and transmission of power. The main competition was between the billing companies, which at least provided rate-payers with a diverting change in letterhead if nothing else."
Related Topics: Deregulation, Socialism, The State
The Right Way to Fix The Grid, by Jerry Taylor, Peter Van Doren, New York Post, 19 Aug 2003

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Electric power industry" as of 11 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.