Is Another Enron Possible in Today’s Energy Market?

From Forbes

By Ken Silverstein

The wintry mess in New England is posing a perplexing question: Whether the confusion and the unusually high energy demand can serve as catalysts to manipulate open electricity markets there, and elsewhere around the country.

At its peak, the great northeastern snowstorm of 2013 left as many as 650,000 people without power. Right before that onslaught, electricity prices in the Northeast climbed about 5 percent, which is a reasonable jump considering the anticipated demand on suppliers, and well below the astronomical increases that Californians saw during the power pinch there in the early 2000s. The upshot: Little room exists to jerry-rig restructured electricity markets.

“We’ve had more than a decade’s experience with organized wholesale electricity markets, and over that time they have clearly shown their ability to deliver tangible benefits to customers, the economy and the environment,” says William Massey, a former commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “That clear track record is highly attractive to customers, transmission providers, demand response companies and renewable energy providers,” continues Massey, now counsel to the Compete Coalition.

The coalition, an electric industry trade group that is dedicated to open markets, wants to dispel any notion that a nefarious link exists between competition and deregulation. It says that open access to the transmission wires is the chief reason for success — that alternative providers now have the ability to send their electrons to end-use customers. The group adds, however, that regulation and oversight are stronger now than before the process got started in the mid 1990s.

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