Here is a paradox. States appoint or elect officials to manage their energy system, then some policymakers want to give that state authority to an agency outside the state.
North Carolina debates a bill to study, or okay a bill to join, a regional transmission organization [RTO]. That can eliminate some control from the people appointed (on behalf of voters) to regulate the state’s power system.
South Carolina lawmakers declined to sell Santee Cooper to a highly qualified energy company known for its fiscal acumen and clean energy capabilities. Why? So Santee Cooper would be owned and run by South Carolina. Yet some of those same lawmakers crave to give away control when it comes to the South Carolina energy system.
An RTO is a multi-state (except Texas) electric supply coordinating body. Its job is to ensure that there is enough power and get that power at the lowest cost. An RTO does not pick the kind of power it buys – coal, solar, gas, hydro…
The Carolinas currently manage their own system without an RTO, within the Carolinas, with Carolina people serving as regulators to ensure the service is lowest cost as required by regulations.
The Carolinas have no RTO. Texas has its own RTO. Has anyone noted a difference in power supply between the two this year?
Maybe it’s me. I want my folks representing my interests. I firmly believe that the farther away a policymaker or regulator gets from home, the less trusting I am that my interests will be represented. That is especially true about energy planning and regulation.
Accountability reduces with distance. These days we need more, not less accountability.