Democracy And Regulation
Democracy And Regulation

Keep up to date!
Enter your
e-mail address
here to join
our mailing list

Send E-mail to Mail at DemocracyAnd

Jerrold Oppenheim
Theo MacGregor

57 Middle Street
Gloucester, Mass.
01930 USA

Other Works
By Greg Palast

How should electricity be provided to the vast majority of consumers who do not or cannot choose? Who should be the Provider of Last Resort? How should resources be acquired?

Massachusetts Department of Telecommunicaitons and Energy, Docket D.T.E. 04-115
Jan 25, 2005
Electricity prices have risen as much as 34% since restructuring began in 1998. For low-income customers, the increase is as much as 47%. A shortage of natural gas nearly caused electricity blackouts last winter. Prices have also become much more volatile and are scheduled to increase by as much as 28% more as Sstandard Offer ends this month -- prices would go even higher under proposals pending at the FERC.

Policymakers should focus on price and reliability instead of choice. Low-income assistance should be restored and expanded. electricity and natural gas contracts should be lengthened further, with a laddered mix smoothing price volatility. Cost-effective efficiency and renewable energy should be expanded in order to decrease demand for natural gas and for electricity and thereby lower the price of both. A Builder of Last Resort should be appointed to build generation on a cost-of-service basis if the market fails to prevent blackouts. This will also help control prices.

Massachusetts Roundtable, Boston
Jan 30, 2004
Proponents of deregulation point to success in the UK (residential rates up 25%, industrial rates down 13%), Texas (residential rates up 15%), and Ohio (residential customers are charged $3.21 for every $1.00 they "save"). Further, separating customer service functions from utilities to new marketing companies has brought slamming, redlining, mass disconnections of service, and other abuses. Instead of replicating these failures in an effort to rescue deregulation for marketers, focus should be on solutions to real customer problems: price volatility, impending shortages of power (with accompanying price spikes), and an affordability crisis for low-income families.

Massachusetts Electric Restructuring Roundtable #75, Boston
May 2, 2003
Low-income bills doubled and home energy burdens tripled this winter, as benefits dropped. Low-income heating utility bill arrears consequently tripled. Both electricity and natural gas retail prices have become unaffordably volatile. Department orders recognize that exposing residential customers to spot prices is unacceptable and that risk management can stabilize retail prices, but it has yet to fully act on these findings.

Includes graphs and data.

Connecticut General Assembly, Energy and Technology Committee
Feb 13, 2003
With competition for residential customers nonexistent in Connecticut, or elsewhere, the Standard Offer should be extended indefinitely, using Portfolio Management and appointing a Builder of Last Resort to provide reasonable and stable electricity prices to Connecticut families.

Includes data on volatile prices and failure of attempts across the US at residential retail competition.

This testimony contributed to the adoption of a laddered purchasing requirement.

Edison Electric Institute
Nov 10, 2001
The purpose of this paper is to describe, from the residential customer point of view, the regulated generation services that remain necessary in a restructured electricity marketplace in order to make sure all residential customers retain electricity service at all times. Many refer to this idea as Provider of Last Resort (POLR) service.

Texas PUC DOCKET NO. 24190
Sep 10, 2001
Testimony before the Texas PUC on the importance of ensuring just and reasonable Provider of Last Resort (POLR) service after electric industry restructuring.