Thursday, June 08, 2006

Almost Heaven, Regulation

Yesterday’s Dispatch carried the lamentable news that Ohio lost out on hosting the first new-generation cleancoal plant – to West Virginia. Reading the subhead and the lede, it sounded like a potential Blackwell campaign issue. The subhead says “AEP expects quicker OK there for clean-coal power station.”

The lede goes a little further:

American Electric Power Co. now expects to build its first cleancoal generating plant in West Virginia rather than Ohio because of the regulatory environment, a company spokeswoman said.

The weary reader says “Uh-oh. Here we go again. J. Ken will rail against Ohio’s cumbersome regulation and bad business climate from his pulpit located in some neverland where someone besides Republicans have been in charge for a generation.”

Read on:

Because of a change in utility regulation, Ohio officials and AEP expect that any rate increase to finance the $1.2 billion power station would spark a dispute with industrial customers and companies that generate electricity for sale on the open market.

Ohio deregulated utilities, meaning customers can choose their power company.

"If we get approval in Ohio, it’s likely to be litigated by some of the outside parties," AEP spokeswoman Melissa McHenry said yesterday.

"It’s likely West Virginia will go forward because the process is more straightforward."

We poor shlub residential customers have long known that deregulation turned the fairly straightforward activity of switching on the lights into a gigantic pain in the tuckus. Apparently industrial customers feel the same way.

Utility regulation is it’s own ridiculously complex thing. Generally I go to Callahan to get help but he’s up to his ears in COPE posts. I don’t know if this could be a campaign issue for Strickland – simply put, we lost out on a business opportunity because the Republicans screwed with something. Query whether that has traction, but it sound like we get the bumper sticker version and the Republicans have to do “Well, see, it’s more complicated than that . . .” That’s a nice change.

The point for me is that Republicans have been turning Ohio into a vast laboratory for the unified free market theory of everything and it doesn’t necessarily work. Lately when people have asked about my political leanings I tell them I am a Militant Pragmatist.

Militant Pragmatist doesn’t care about ideology, he cares about making things better.

Militant Pragmatist recognizes that sometimes the best solution is market-based and sometimes it is regulatory and often it’s a blend of the two.

Militant Pragmatist can be left leaning or right leaning, depending on the outcome desired but ignores labels in favor of data sets when considering policy.

Join with me. We are the Militant Pragmatists.

What to we want? SOMETHING THAT WORKS!

When do we want it? AS SOON AS PRACTICABLE!