My wife and I attended a party Saturday night in Washington, DC. So, we used some credit card points to stay at a plush hotel near the White House. Over a leisurely breakfast, I read the weekend edition of The Financial Times – yes, I am that much of a geek. An article on the PG&E financial crisis and possible implications for financing “green” energy projects caught my attention. It suggests possible lessons, not just for California, but all states that wish to promote renewable power.
I frequently am reminded by my kids – and my CAISO Committee Chair, come to think of it – that I often “date” myself with my cultural references. Oops, I did it again with the above referenced lyrics from “Buffalo Springfield.” But these words come to mind as I contemplate the relentless evolution of carbon issues in states across the country and how they are dealt with in an economically efficient manner – or not.
My Faith is Shaken
-Thursday, November 29, 2018
“What the Hell?” … That was what I muttered after I was finished reading FERC’s Order in answer to the La Paloma complaint (EL18 177-000) about the California market for “Resource Adequacy” (RA). The reaction was not to the decision itself, but rather to the very sloppy and dismissive way the text of the Order treated the record on file. I’m used to not always agreeing with the decisions of the Commission – even when I was on staff there. What is so disappointing are the omissions and the cursory treatment of the record. If one had the money, I contend that this could lead to a challenge in Federal Court on purely procedural grounds. Or is the Commission counting on the fact that parties will just accept their writ?
I began to write last week intending to write about what the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) needs to do to ensure that the market is procuring sufficient “resource adequacy” (RA) capacity to ensure system reliability. However, the unfolding wild fire disaster made such commentary seem trivial at this point. There will be time to deal with the importance of RA and a recent FERC decision of dubious logic about the RA market, but not this week.
Well, the media is certainly poised to see what will happen after the elections this November. Many are focusing on whether one, or both, Houses of Congress will change hands and what the national implications will be. As for me, I’m more interested in what is happening in Nevada regarding Question 3 and the possibility of retail choice for electricity in the Silver State.
The Loss of Independence
-Friday, September 21, 2018
I’ve not written for a couple of months. July and August are supposed to be calm, quiet months. But I was busy putting together and running my first DC Roundtable for WPTF. Then I had to take my son to college and subsequently mope around the house for a couple of weeks missing him. Next, my Mom seemed on the verge on passing and then recovered after a vigil in the hospital. There was planning and running the WPTF Summer Meeting in Tahoe while, at the same time, arranging for my son’s evacuation from his college in North Carolina in advance of Hurricane Florence. But then I found myself brooding and decided to write about it.
The PEAK Announcement
-Thursday, July 19, 2018
The west-wide reliability coordinator, PEAK, announced that it would begin the process of winding down its business in view of demands from some of its key members. Why, some have asked, has this come about? In some ways, it is hard to grasp as PEAK represented the first time the West had had an independent reliability coordinator with tools that gave it unparalleled visibility into the entire regional grid.
Have No Fear
-Thursday, June 28, 2018
This past Tuesday was Primary Elections Day in my state. The headlining race was for governor, but since my party’s nominee was running unopposed – and I like him very much – the incentives for showing up for one to vote were “just because…” Just because one is a good citizen and cares about the process. I have a son who is 18 and about to go to college. We passed the polling place and I told him I had to go home, shower, put on better clothes, and go vote.
I’m sitting in the United Club at LAX, waiting for my Red-eye flight back to Baltimore. My son’s high school graduation is tomorrow. It’s only Wednesday evening but it feels like a full week already. Gary Ackerman and I went on a Road Trip of epic proportions on which we met six members in one day in the LA area. Next day, three members in Orange County and San Diego, and on the next two members in the San Diego area before I dropped Gary at the Cross Border Express Airport on the border with Mexico. I then drove back to LA and am writing this blog while listening to the toddler next to me report on the comings and goings of the planes out the window.
This is my second effort to write a blog on this particularly sticky subject… the very real problems when policy makers intervene in markets. The reasons such a discussion is difficult in the context of the California electricity markets are emotional. First is the continuing psychic damage that was done in 2000-01. The second is that we want to electricity to be competitive but there is something about it that makes us want to “fix” it all the time. But the most damaging of all is a popular narrative that firmly states that the 2000-01 crisis was all about manipulation. That narrative is damaging because it leads to the entrenched belief that regulatory intervention is necessary to protect from the manipulation, and by extension a painful crisis, from happening again.