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Group Exposes How American Consumers Get Stuck Paying for Utility Corruption; No Examples of “Smart” Meter Boondoggles

Posted By: RumorMail
Date: Monday, 31-May-2021 11:46:05
www.rumormill.news/173567

From Utility Dive:

Exposing the utility playbook: Ratepayers are stuck paying the bill for utility corruption

In 2020, Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder was arrested and subsequently resigned his speakership after an FBI investigation found that the influential lawmaker accepted $61 million dollars from electric utility FirstEnergy in exchange for passage of a nuclear bailout bill. The legislation sought to subsidize two of the company’s failing nuclear plants by charging Ohioans a monthly fee.

Another recent scandal in Illinois saw Michael Madigan, the longest serving state Speaker of the House in U.S. history, lose his position when the state’s largest utility, ComEd, confessed to giving jobs and contracts to Madigan associates for nearly a decade in an effort to sway legislation at the state capitol.

Sadly, stories like these are nothing new — and they aren’t surprising. We’ve long known that unregulated monopolies necessarily lead to higher costs, less efficiency and limited innovation. The very nature of our monopoly electric utility model leads to companies who are beholden to their shareholders — not their customers. To compound this issue, bad actors among monopoly companies expend unlimited time, money and resources on achieving regulatory capture. Regulatory capture occurs when the lawmakers and officials who are supposed to protect public interests and regulate these monopolies instead begin working to benefit those very same companies.

Ever since Edison fired up the first commercial power plant on Pearl Street in NYC in 1882, many have believed that building, operating and maintaining the electric grid and delivering power to families and businesses should be a vertically integrated industry under monopoly control. For over a century that sentiment was arguably true. After all, who needs dozens of companies running redundant power lines and infrastructure across the country from house to house in every town and city.

The historic cost associated with these investments and the local impacts warranted assigning this job to a single regulated actor. However, advances in technology today have led to a reimagining of the traditional utility industry and have made it possible for alternative models centered around competition and free markets to emerge — and most importantly, find success.

This threat of competition is understandably scary to many utilities who, for too long, have enjoyed their position as the only show in town. In many ways, they have never had to worry about innovation, efficiency, competition, customer service, etc. The thought of moving to a market structure where they must compete to earn and keep business has driven them to fight back and fight back hard.


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