An article in the Washington Post draws a surprising lesson from the Solyndra scandal: Texas-style deregulation is what will turn this country green. Stranger still, the wildly western Texas energy market is more… European than the markets in other states. Writes Sunil Sharan of Sierra Consulting:
Currently, only 15 states in the U.S., as well as the District of Columbia, provide any form of retail choice. Of those 15 states, Texas, the largest electricity market in the country, is the most freewheeling. Well over half of all customers in Texas are eligible to switch electricity providers, which is about 6.6 million. By May 2011, approximately 60 percent of such competitive-choice customers — nearly 4 million — had done so. Texas went a step further by instituting a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) — a law to boost renewable energy production. The initial RPS mandate of 1999 — to generate 2,000 MW of new renewable energy by 2009 — was achieved in 2005, when the state increased its total renewable capacity goals to 5,880 megawatts by 2015, and to 10,000 megawatts by 2025. After the RPS was implemented, Texas wind corporations and utilities, according to the state government, invested around $1 billion in wind power. Companies, such as Green Mountain Energy, that directly sell clean energy to consumers have started to emerge. […]
By contrast, there is not much hope for change under the current President.
In a divided Congress, another round of clean-energy stimulus, and other carbon-reduction schemes such as cap-and-trade or a nationwide renewable portfolio standard appear unrealistic. America’s greening is grinding to a halt. The stimulus provided utilities with a carrot, now it is time to pull out the proverbial stick. Deregulation, which is, in effect, competition would move the onus from strapped taxpayers onto cash-rich utilities, assuming there is proper oversight. The first level of oversight is to ensure that the market works in a fair manner, and that overall electric supply remains reliable. As an example of market fairness, both Texas and Pennsylvania, as they embarked upon deregulation, set a price floor below which incumbent electricity providers could not go so that new entrants were not undercut unfairly.
Is the Bush-Perry nightmare of Texas pointing towards a more effective way to a greener future than the Obama administration or such models of blue social policy as California?Sharan’s article is not the last word on energy policy, but it bears out an important theme of this blog: conventional green policy — corporatist, statist, Malthusian, deeply compromised by cheesy alliances with special interests — has lost its way. The movement is not worthy of the cause.