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View Diary: Electric Choice Rip Off - Power to the Powerful, Risk to the Powerless (37 comments)

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  •  I'm not an expert on Georgia (6+ / 0-)

    but the federal government deregulated interstate gas prices.  (Thanks to Jimmy Carter, a true visionary of the "market.")  States can't do anything about that, although they still have the authority to regulate the price a local distribution company can charge to deliver the gas to you, and most do so based on the cost of the service.

    Electricity deregulation is a nightmare, proven by the California experience that got Gray Davis recalled and Arnold Schwarzenegger (sp?) elected in his place.  There's irony here - the latter is a Republican enamored of the same dumbass "competition" policies that caused the problem in the first place.  It's pretty obvious that if you force public utility companies to sell their generation assets to companies that are UNREGULATED, they're going to charge like crazy, and the utilities will have to pay what they ask, and the regulators can't do a damned thing about it.  This is no place to try operating a "market."

    State public utility commissions generally do their best to keep prices reasonable, but there's only so much they can do, what with politicians enabling the latest dreams of the robber barons.  The old vertically-integrated electric utility, operated as a monopoly, and closely overseen by a commission, is the way to go.  Of course, people who say that are considered backward in some circles.

    "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers

    by Kentucky DeanDemocrat on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 07:10:49 PM PST

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    •  Not the same thing (3+ / 0-)

      States can still regulate the price of gas within the state, it has nothing to do with National Gas Policy Act of 1978 (read about that here).

      Thanks to the "deregulation" passed in Georgia in 1997, we pay 37% more on average than other states.  One more thing we can thank Zell Miller for. Prior to that the PSC controlled the gas company just like any other public utility, setting the rates that the utility could charge.  

      The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones! - John Maynard Keynes

      by Do Something on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 10:20:15 PM PST

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      •  LDCs buy gas from gas producers (0+ / 0-)

        and the price at the wellhead is deregulated.  The federal deregulation process began in 1978 and continued to the 80s.  That's exactly what the source to which you pointed me says.  State commissions can't regulate interstate operations.  That's FERC's job.

        However, I gather from your comments that Georgia has taken the additional step of permitting marketers (rather than, or in addition to, the local distribution company) to buy gas and sell direct to customers, using the local distribution gas company's pipelines (who are permitted to charge a nondiscriminatory fee to such marketers) and therefore you as a customer can choose a supplier that's not your LDC.  That's something several states have done to introduce "competition," and the common name for it is "customer choice." But the marketers are still buying gas from the producers, whose prices are ultimately beyond state regulators' control.

        If that is the case in Georgia, you have a third layer of businessmen added to your bill:  the "marketer."  The original gas producer and the local distribution company, which has to keep the delivery system operating and in repair, still have to be paid.

        "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers

        by Kentucky DeanDemocrat on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:46:29 PM PST

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        •  Here's a FERC publication (0+ / 0-)

          explaining that natural gas prices were "decontrolled" in the 80s to avoid "inefficiencies":

          http://www.ferc.gov/...

          "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers

          by Kentucky DeanDemocrat on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 08:16:15 PM PST

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          •  Well, heck, I can't get the link to work (0+ / 0-)

            Sorry.  If you try researching it, you'll probably hit an explanation by searching for gas wholesale prices + "market" (the magic word).  Caveat:  FERC is supposed to prevent "market manipulation."

            "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers

            by Kentucky DeanDemocrat on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 08:20:30 PM PST

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