June 18, 2002

ENERGY-POLICY GODDESS LYNNE KIESLING has a long and informative post on the GAO report on FERC oversight. Yeah, I know, that sentence reads like a policy-wonk parody (well, except perhaps for the “goddess” part), but this stuff is pretty important (it’s gotten a lot of coverage, which she links to), and she’s smart. Excerpt:

This report is not an argument against competition and market processes in electricity, as many market foes and some of the commentaries I have read today would have you believe. Instead it is an argument for FERC to do the strategic planning and implement performance measures to create a set of regulatory institutions that rely on rules that encourage transparency, and focus on deterring the great majority of bad behavior.

The GAO report lacks something that I think is extremely important. It fails to point out that FERC was not to blame for the over-engineered, overtly politicized, dysfunctional rules that the state of California forced into laws governing its “market.” FERC has admitted that in hindsight it would have changed some decisions, but California’s politicians have not been so introspective in public.

Lately, many of California’s politicians have been busy trying to avoid being sent to jail — a particularly pressing concern since California Attorney General Bill Lockyer regards prison rape as a useful punitive measure — but perhaps they, or their unindicted successors, will find time for such introspection in the future.

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