Privatization to blame for hurricane power outages?

From today's Washington Post Letters to the Editor section (bold mine):

Monday, September 22, 2003; Page A22

Now that the sky has cleared and the winds have died, Washingtonians should be asking how much of the dislocations we're suffering are attributable to weather beyond our control and how much to an under-funded, under-maintained infrastructure.

Most developed countries bury their electrical cabling. Increasingly, the existence of aerial transmission lines is the signature of the Third World.

It is certainly not something you'll see in the new cities of China.

The transmission lines to my Adams Morgan apartment building are buried, however, and we lost power anyway.

Why? Because water got to a worn, under-maintained transmission point, and with a loud bang, the manhole cover shot up, Georgetown-style. And then the power went out, Baghdad-style.

Welcome to the era of privatization. The businesses running our infrastructure are no longer public utilities but private corporations, answerable not to us but to their own stockholders. Why should they invest in developing and maintaining our infrastructure when it's cheaper just to fix it when it breaks down?

RUSS WINTER
Washington

Is electricity transmission and distribution really privatized?
If I am unhappy with the service I am receiving, can I switch 'providers'?
Can I negotiate prices among different 'providers'?
If one such 'provider' fails to show profits over the long run, will they go out of business?

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>>Is electricity

>>Is electricity transmission and distribution really privatized?

I'm not sure where you live, but the odds are against you on that. I wrote an article about the Texas energy market and how it was not deregulated.

>>If I am unhappy with the service I am receiving, can I switch 'providers'?

Probably not, especially if distribution is still monopolized: as energy trading makes electricity a commodity (which should be a good thing, however Enron really sullied that market). And by providers, do you mean the actual electricity or distribution? Because, right now, half the electrons coming into your computer could in fact be generated from some place in the Yukon (an electron is an electron is an electron).

>>Can I negotiate prices among different 'providers'?

If by 'providers' you mean power generating companies? I'd doubt they'd listen to you, simply because they do not have to -- most are legalized monopolies, so the buck stops with the PUC (public utilities commission).

>>If one such 'provider' fails to show profits over the long run, will they go out of business? "

If they're subsidized by the State, they could merely become another Amtrak.

I am actually interested in knowing what energy markets on the planet are really free-markets 100% (production, distribution, etc.). I'm not aware of any.

Tim, Thanks for the

Tim,

Thanks for the responses. (As you could probably tell, my questions were mostly rhetorical.) As you stated, there really is no free market in transmission and distribution of power. Most deregulation has been on the generation side, with the transmission and distribution still in the state's hands. Thus, I do not see how the writer of the letter could blame privatization for the lack of power these past few days.

At any rate, one thing is

At any rate, one thing is certain: the Hokies (turkey giblets) will lose this weekend.

Take that to the nearest central bank, and cash it.

HERESY!! ^_^

HERESY!! ^_^

At any rate, one thing is

At any rate, one thing is certain: the Hokies (turkey giblets) will lose this weekend.

Take that to the nearest central bank, and cash it.

I don't know about that, but I'd pick against the line. UCONN is one of the most underrated teams in the country.

UCONN's offense is something

UCONN's offense is something to be reckoned with, for sure. I wouldn't call this upcoming game to be a shootout, but it will definitely be within the original spread, which was something ridiculous like -23. No way we're winning with a margin over 2 touchdowns. None. UCONN is guaranteed a garbage-time TD at the very least- their offense is that good.