There is a need for a shared vision to restructure the power industry, shrinking regulators jobs to price controls of the remaining transportation electric utilities and letting end-customers make their own investments and purchasing decisions of electricity. The shared vision needs to go to the public opinion so that high level political decisions are enabled to restructure the electricity industry and shrinking regulators jobs.
Shrinking the Regulator’s Jobs
By José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio, Ph.D.
Systemic Consultant: Electricity
Copyright © 2008 José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, without written permission from José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio. This article is an unedited, an uncorrected, draft material of The EWPC Textbook. Please write to email@example.com to contact the author for any kind of engagement.
In a timely article, Tam Hunt asks What does $100 per barrel oil mean for us? As the market hit the $100.01 figure yesterday, I suggest that it means that it is about time to start to shrink utilities regulators jobs. I hope that after reading this, Tam is not longer "torn between [a] desire for fair rules to apply to all utilities, and [a] desire for local autonomy."
Just before the great depression of the 1930's, someone like Bob Amorosi (see some of the references under Tam’s article) probably had written "there is no other emerging industry in America to absorb the legions of lay off workers that would create." With his comment, I think Bob just might have signaled the high likelihood of another great depression scenario. At that time, the problem was a banking systemic risk and the solution a paradigm shift to go in favor of the second industrial revolution creative destruction. Presidential leadership was great at the time.
I contend that the problem now is an energy systemic risk and the solution in the electric sector is the EWPC paradigm shift, to go along with the third industrial revolution communication paradigm shift. Hierarchical top down restructuring leadership is missing yet, but we can help push it by letting evolve a networked bottom up shared vision.
The WSJ article referred by Jeff Presley, written by Paul Ingrassia, starts with "Our cities have been straining at their seams, ‘declares a full-page newspaper automotive advertisement.’ Traffic is jam-packed. Parking space is at a premium. And our suburbs have spread like wildfire. People are living farther from their work, driving more miles on crowded streets," reflects a systemic problem (well known at MIT) that is solved by mass transportation, as the personal car itself makes a vicious circle that increases energy waste more and more for societies.
In fact, there is at least another industry that is absorbing Detroit’s jobs – the electricity industry. Gerald B. Sheblé, writing on the Jan/Feb 2008 IEEE Power & Energy magazine, “noticed significant mass transportation developments in Portland Oregon; Nice, France; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Saint Louis, Missouri…” Detroit jobs are already moving to electric power mass transportation jobs, meaning that we need to solve the electricity problem itself and the regulators are in the way.
Ingrassia’s Lesson Two: “Market forces, not government regulation, provide the most effective impetus…” is welcomed to shrink regulators’ job. As regulators are not longer able to represent the end-customers better than themselves in the third industrial revolution, demand integration to power system operation and control will enable efficient long run investments by all parties under EWPC.
Explaining the shift towards shrinking regulator’s jobs, MIT Professor Lester Thurow wrote in 2000 “In the process of globalization governments are losing many of their powers to regulate their economies. If firms don’t like one nation’s system of regulations, they just move their activities to different countries… Systems of government regulation are not taken as given but viewed as a selection of restaurants where one has to choose where one wants to eat based upon the menu offered.” It seems that the CPUC as many other regulators just don’t imagine to restructured themselves out their jobs. A shared vision needs to emerge for restructuring to take place aligned with globalization.
So, I am now convinced that FERC, the CPUC and the three largest California utilities actions were integral part of the natural systemic response that led to the vicious circle of the mistaken efforts that has had a large impact on the delay of restructuring worldwide. As you all know, I disagree with FERC chief that "Deregulation is here to stay,” unless they introduce the EWPC market architecture and design paradigm shift that leaves regulators with just price control over the electric transportation utility. As can be seen in the article Demand Integration is NOT the Province of Politics, state and federal governments have already come to a dead end with the many incremental extensions of the old vertically integrated utility paradigm.
In Don Giegler’s quote of Jordan, the "... disastrous restructuring of California's electricity industry and that artificially created market structures have many unintended consequences..." were all the time under FERC, CPUC and the three large California utilities, as can be seen in the EWPC article Slicing the Last of the Regulated Monopolies (the update to the article by Lester P. Silverman, a director of McKinsey & Company, on The New York Times of July 21st, 1996, is highly recommended reading for everyone):
“The California Public Utilities Commission issued a decision in December 1995 that made it official: the investor-owned electric utility industry in California will be restructured to allow for wholesale and retail competition beginning in 1998,” as it is reported in Barbara R. Barkovich & Dianne V. Hawk, "Charting a new course in California," IEEE Spectrum, July 1996, pp. 28-29.
Barkovich and Hawk, reported something Mr. Silverman didn’t know: "The debate in California has changed remarkably over the past year or two. Discussion now focuses not on whether retail competition or direct access is possible, but on how to make it happen. The three California investor-owned utilities affected by the commission's decision convened an industry working group, called the Western Power Exchange (Wepex) to address the issues related to implementing the new competitive retail market. Its responsibility has included making three filings to FERC by the end of April 1996, seeking [I am copying only the filing to break transmission and distribution, to keep native load and avoid competition]:
• A determination of the dividing line between transmission, over which the FERC has jurisdiction, and distribution, whose regulation is expected to be left to the states."
So, by not allowing retail competition was one of the key issues that delayed proper worldwide restructuring with the The BIG California LIE, whose summary is as follows: “The BIG LIE is that retail competition is impossible in electric markets. The implementation of a competitive retail market was the center of the debate in California. Instead of cooperating to implement it, the three big California utilities, that didn't care about the end-custumers, acted very irresponsibly. EWPC is the paradigm shift to show that retail competition is not only possible, but absolutely necessary to turn the electricity industry into a vibrant value added business for all stakeholders.”
Now I update my mechanistic thinking with a systemic one, not to say that in the BIG California LIE, the CPUC and FERC also acted very irresponsibly. In fact, I take back that “the three big California utilities, that didn't care about the end-customers, acted very irresponsibly,” as it adds unnecessary confrontation. In fact, the Fifth Discipline explains that “We all tend to blame someone else… for our problems. System thinking shows us that there is no separate ‘other’; that” the CPUC, the California utilities, FERC, and the customers “… are part of a single system. The cure lies in your relationship with your ‘enemy.’”
Finally, lets’ look at Paul Ingrassia’s remaining lessons under EWPC:
Lesson One: “Incremental progress shouldn't be dismissed.” Agreed once a very clear shared vision, like that of EWPC paradigm shift is understood allowing high level leadership to take place.
Lesson Three: “New technology will require new infrastructure, presenting a chicken-or-egg problem,” that is solved by restructuring under EWPC and applying Lesson One.
It seems that the missing element is still some a top down action like the one by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt or even GM’s President Mr. Cole that “had the guts and the clout” to resolve a car infrastructure issue. Now that oil is very costly, and global warming seems to be a great threat, the alternative I am proposing is to generate a worldwide network public opinion leadership or grassroots movement to try to tell elected officials what to do.
While remaining open to debate and dialogue to come up with the emergent shared vision, I suggest readers to browse the first 90 EWPC articles and select those of interest in the links First 45 EWPC Blog Articles and Second 45 EWPC Blog Articles.