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Did You Get a Reasonable Price?
This question was posed to me by my wife when I told her I was going to buy “standing room only” (SRO) tickets to the first World Series game to be held in the nation’s capital since 1933. I’m going with my son, and I am not taking this opportunity for granted. Who knows when the Nationals might be in the “Fall Classic” again! All that said, I understand why my wife asked the question.
Surprise, surprise, surprise!
I’m sitting in the waiting room as our son goes “under the knife” … Well, that isn’t what one should call arthroscopic surgery these days. It is amazing what can be done with minimal invasion to repair a torn labrum (shoulder ligament). While I wait for a groggy 19-year old to emerge, I am basking in the glow of a surprising comeback win for my Washington Nationals in the Wild Card game of the Baseball Playoffs. After years of disappointment from otherwise successful Nats teams, this surprise was sweet indeed. Next stop: Dodger Stadium against the machine in Chavez Ravine! While the Wild Card win was unexpected, beating the beastly Dodgers would be a huge surprise. We shall see…
Undaunted Courage
The Pacific Northwest has historically had excess capacity. When your used to something, it’s easy to take it for granted – like youth and health. You don’t do the things that might be necessary to take care of yourself going forward – like establishing a market or a regional capacity obligation – because its hard and doesn’t really seem necessary. Now, that lack of foresight has the alarm bells ringing. With renewable mandates throughout much of the region coupled with retirements of legacy generation, that comfortable excess capacity is quickly becoming a luxury of the past. The mind is focused. But what to do?
Gluttony and Hunger
Last week I went with my family on a three-day cruise from Florida to the Bahamas. What would persuade me to go to the Bahamas in the middle of August with a ship of revelers? The occasion was the wedding of my niece who wanted to do something memorable for the happy occasion. It was so thoughtful, and she and her groom had a lovely ceremony. That said, this was one of those “all inclusive” cruises, where food abounds, and drinks flow freely. It seemed as if most of the passengers were intent on 72 hours of revelry on a scale that would have made Caligula blush.
A Movable Feast
This is a picture of my daughter, Miles, with all the “critters” of the house surrounding her. Perhaps our two mutts and cat can sense she will be leaving soon. It’s mid-August and my daughter is getting ready for her first year of college. My son will soon begin his second year of matriculating. It will be a quiet house; my wife and I will move into the next phase of our life. We’re still “parents” but it will be different. I can’t help but be a bit melancholy at the prospect of this new life. I know it has possibilities that were unknown to us the last 19 years, but I will miss those kids.
Raging at the Machine…
I was passing time waiting for a flight out of San Francisco and I ran across a LinkedIn article by a very bright friend of mine – Ron McNamara – on incentives and market outcomes. Ron used to oversee Markets in MISO, and before that, he worked for AEP. The gist of the piece is that if you have a financial interest in an organized electricity market, then you should also be invested in that market’s architecture and rules. In markets for equities, credit, or “normal” commodities there is a clear ownership structure and relatively light regulatory oversight. The imperative is to make sure nobody can game the market, but the outcomes are between willing buyers and sellers. Not so for electricity. Consider for a minute; who “owns” the CAISO? Who “owns” SPP or PJM or MISO?
This is Getting Muddy...
When you are from a small state like Kentucky, you pay particular attention to things that are part of your cultural fabric. College basketball comes to mind, although my primary team is the University of Louisville, not the better-known program down the road in Lexington. UofL is not my alma mater but Columbia University isn’t a frequent participant in high level hoops competition and, you gotta go with your home town. Similarly, the Kentucky Derby is a big deal for any Kentuckian. I always watch the Derby, stand when the horses are brought on the track and the band plays “My Old Kentucky Home”, and enjoy the most exciting 2 minutes in sports.
Biases are a waste of time…
This past week, I got to spend quality time with western state regulators and industry folks at the CREPC-WIRAB meeting in Salt Lake City. Meetings of NARUC are good, but most state regulatory bodies have a variety of industries to regulate from natural gas and electricity to taxis and other things of public interest. Consequently, it was great to have folks from all over the West discuss how the grid is going to manage so many challenges; from carbon policies in the coastal areas of the West to the changes in the generation mix all over the interconnection. This focus is the real benefit of CREPC-WIRAB – plus visiting beautiful Salt Lake isn’t bad either.
What goes on there? Sacramento and… FERC?
It was a strange week. A lot of travel, but it was all in the Eastern time zone – evident by the humidity in the air as Spring begins to arrive in the East. It began with a trip to Columbus, Ohio to present before the State Commissions in the PJM region on FTRs and then to Miami, FL to the WSPP meeting where I moderated a panel on the PG&E bankruptcy. Strange, but interesting.
Ch, ch, change…
I was having lunch with a former colleague at FERC and took a moment to appreciate the changes in the Commission’s Northeast DC neighborhood. I can recall working there in the early 2000s and it was quite sketchy just a block or two away from FERC. This sprint, walking to lunch in the crisp Atlantic air, I took in the sight of all the new apartments and other buildings. When I passed a Gelato place across the street from a Whole Foods, I figured it was safe to say that part of DC had changed.