Have you ever seen a one-car parade? Get ready.
South Carolina takes its first step in an electric market restructuring process. It could change how South Carolinians get their electricity, how much electricity, and what they pay. A legislative committee will study whether to create or join a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO).
Regional is an important word in this concept. The idea is to band together several states to let the contracts for the expected electric needs in each state. A lower price is the main goal, but some claim that an RTO will lead to more renewables.
Economies of scale take teamwork, throwing something in the pot, giving up some local control for the bigger organization. Developing something bigger means effectively managing something bigger, or sharing the management.
But check this. A news report says one South Carolina senator wants an RTO with NC and maybe other states, “But he says if North Carolina does not go ahead, that would not change his mind about pushing for a competitive, structured electricity market in South Carolina to replace the current monopoly system.”
That senator is not alone based on the hearing last week. Others would not mind looking at a non-regional regional transmission organization … a one-state regional organization.
Read that sentence again. It’s a possibility.
It’s a one-car parade, in effect.
The only place with a one-state RTO is Texas, which at least has the geographic size to argue for the concept. More than eight South Carolinas can fit in one Texas. (268,597 square miles versus 32,020 square miles.) No doubt a South Carolina RTO would be an eighth as efficient as Texas, too.
The concern – “At the end of the day, it seems clear that ERCOT and Texas’ energy strategy is not as reliable as the vertically integrated model.” That is from an opinion column in Forbes: Will The Southeast Import The Texas Energy Model?
The consultants interviewed for the South Carolina study said that a one-state RTO can be created but would limit effectiveness. They can create a study to look at whatever the General Assembly wants. Name your poison.
By the way, think back to the report that suggested selling Santee Cooper. That was a solid report, rejected in lieu of personal political survival. What South Carolina can show for that report are the receipts for its cost.
So the rush is on to create an RTO, to do something, anything, to show action of some sort. No matter if it helps or not, apparently.
A one-state RTO parade preserves state sovereignty, though.