It’s not about competition, but regulation


To the Editor:

The MV Times writes that higher electricity costs are the result of cumbersome state and federal regulations, but that is wrong. Our electricity is cheap because it is regulated. [See Editorial: State government legislates higher electricity costs, August 3.]

Thomas Edison not only gave us the first working incandescent light bulb, but also America’s first coal-fired power plant, as well as a regulated utility industry. The cost of Edison’s first electricity was $4.32 per kilowatt hour. J. P. Morgan didn’t have any trouble paying, but others did. So Edison had to get the cost down, and he did it, not with competition, but with regulation. Samuel Insull, Edison’s second in command, either talked or paid his way into convincing Chicago’s corrupt political machine that competition among power companies was “economically wrong.” Power companies were “natural monopolies” that should be regulated, which has been the case ever since.

It is the $10 to $50 billion annual subsidy for nonrenewable coal, oil, and natural gas that keeps the price of our electricity down. So what’s wrong with a few subsidies for wind and solar, especially if they produce cheaper electricity.

But then again, I have to keep being reminded that competition among power companies is economically wrong.

Peter Cabana


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