Tuesday Energy: Beware of “Arizonans” astroturfing for Enron-style deregulation.

21 Dec 2010 11:45 pm
Posted by: Donna

Hat tip to Civil Arizona’s Anna Johnson for “Arizona’s Top 20 Most Influential Lobbyists”, which was informative because it listed who the influential lobbyists represent. It also alerted me to an outfit called Arizonans for Electric Choice and Competition. If that sounds like a grassroots coalition of regular Joes and Janes yearning for freedom from oppressive monopolistic utilities, you’re mistaken. See, by “Arizonans” the AECC means mostly corporate “persons” like Walmart, Intel, and Honeywell.

About AECC

Arizonan’s for Electric Choice & Competition (AECC) was created in 1997 to support a competitive market for Arizona electric consumers.

Goals

Promote the deregulation of the Arizona electric industry
Promote competition between providers of electricity for the benefit of all Arizona consumers
Support legislative and regulatory action to facilitate competition for electric service
Promote public awareness of the benefits of a competitive market for electrical services

Guiding Principles

Arizona consumers generally pay more for electricity than consumers in other western states
Free markets and competition create incentives for suppliers to serve rather than dictate to their customers
A fair and competitive market does not disadvantage one supplier of electricity over another
Transmission and distribution of energy will remain regulated – Deregulation applies to the generation portion of the electric industry
Empowering consumers to choose their electric supplier will lead to lower prices, better service, and market innovations

Can you smell the Enron? I knew you could. Deregulation worked really well for regular ratepayers in California. Not. Plus, I remember those fun times on business trips to Santa Clara back in 2000 and 2001 when I’d be driving down El Camino Real at lunchtime and the traffic lights would go out because of the brownouts, which we later learned during the Enron scandal were manufactured. But kids, deregulation of energy isn’t meant to benefit us serfs. The goal is to redistribute our income to our wealthy overlords.

Sharon Beder of PR Watch describes what deregulation is and how it is sold to unsuspecting politicians and citizens.

Despite efforts to manufacture an appearance of grassroots support, deregulation was primarily driven by large industrial users, who thought they could save money, and energy companies, who thought they could make money out of it. The case for deregulation could not be presented in self-interested terms to the public. It had to be presented as being in the interests of the wider public. Groups such as large industrial energy users used the language of free-market advocates to state their case in terms that disguised their self-interest.

Having an understanding of what’s driving the push for deregulation makes it easier to see through the astroturfing. Here’s a report AECC gave to SRP about the ominous portents of AZ’s renewable energy standard and the role of solar.

8 Comments

  1. Comment by dude on December 22, 2010 8:30 pm

    They’re “Arizonans” the way Alan Scott is an Arizonan.

  2. Comment by Alan Scott on December 24, 2010 11:14 am

    dude,

    So nice of you to mention my name. This board has been dead of late.

    California showed how not to do deregulation. Yes, Enron was run by crooks.

    Hopefully Arizona is not stupid enough to get rid of it’s in State generating capacity. Hopefully Arizona is not stupid enough to believe ‘ green ‘ will make up for lack of real capacity.

    Hopefully Arizona’s Republican’s are not as stupid as California’s Democratic rulers.

    Oh, by the way ‘dude’, we have deregulation here in Pennsylvania. I personally am not in favor of it. Rates went up 30% but then you could get 10% off of that from competitive companies.

    Besides attacking me, do you bring any facts to the conversation ?

  3. Comment by dude on December 28, 2010 8:28 am

    I don’t see how you have any credibility, Alan Scott, since you’ve never been in the military.

  4. Comment by Alan Scott on December 28, 2010 1:06 pm

    dude,

    One has nothing to do with the other. The topic is energy deregulation. Do you have any knowledge of the subject or do you just want to attack ? Either way you aren’t much of a foil for me.

  5. Comment by dude on December 28, 2010 9:33 pm

    The California electricity crisis, also known as the Western U.S. Energy Crisis, of 2000 and 2001 was a situation where California had a shortage of electricity. The state suffered from multiple large-scale blackouts, one of the state’s largest energy companies collapsed, and the economic fall-out greatly harmed Governor Gray Davis’s standing.

    Drought and delays in approval of new power plants decreased supply and forced up wholesale prices, which increased over 800% from April 2000 to December 2000. This rise was exacerbated by market manipulation, with Enron accused of deliberately shutting down power plants gratuitously. Because the state Government had a cap on retail electricity charges, this market manipulation squeezed the industry’s revenue margins, causing the bankruptcy of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and near bankruptcy of Southern California Edison in early 2001.

    The financial crisis was possible because of deregulation legislation instituted in 1996 by Governor Pete Wilson. Enron took advantage of this deregulation and was involved in economic withholding and inflated price bidding in California’s spot markets. The crisis cost $40bn to $45bn.

  6. Comment by Alan Scott on December 29, 2010 7:16 pm

    dude,

    I have to admit, you gave a good summary. Again, hopefully Arizona learned something from California about having enough capacity within the state.

    Part of California’s problem was their desire to outsource the pollution and other troublesome aspects of power generation. Kinda like the US outsourcing their oil production to Saudi Arabia and pretending the difference can be made up with green energy.

  7. Comment by dude on December 30, 2010 5:16 pm

    You gloss over Republican and financial industry complicity in the crisis and conflate it with emerging energy technologies with Olympic spirit.

    What I really mean is, I find your allegiance to an ideology that by design benefits the greediest among us while debasing the humanity of anyone who disagrees or might not fit in to the fake narrative you believe pathetic and has no problem with outright lying to achieve its goals pathetic, offensive and deeply un-American, and you would do us all a favor by realizing you’re a small part in a massively complex system and no amount of chest thumping and mouth breathing will turn your existence from that of a bitter xenophobe who has been failed by the rigid mythological society you think you’re protecting into a billionaire self-made secure man undisputed in your masculinity or control of your family’s lives.

  8. Comment by Alan Scott on December 30, 2010 10:04 pm

    dude,

    Or should I call you Dr. dude. Your psychoanalysis of me is far too complicated. Let’s see how can I simplify it for you????

    Conservative good, Liberal bad.

    I seem to remember that not only did drought play a role by curtailing hydroelectric power production in neighboring States that supplied California, but didn’t they get hit by high natural gas prices, which produced a large amount of their electricity.

    I do not deny that Gov. Wilson a Republican started the deregulation. I do not deny that Enron which had connections to the Bush White House gouged California.

    As I see it a major part of the deregulation mess was caused by requiring the big utilities to divest themselves of their in State generating capacity. They became mere distribution shells. They were highly regulated while those who bought up their power plants were not.

    Again, Arizona should have learned what not to do by California’s mistakes.

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