Someone needs to throw the BS flag on a part of the energy debate in the Carolinas. Consider it thrown.

Last week the South Carolina legislature’s committee to investigate a regional transmission organization (RTO) convened. Perhaps investigate should be in quotes.

One comment made in the session was that no pre-conceived outcome has been determined about moving toward an RTO.

Voters deserve more forthrightness. Too much psychic and emotional energy has been invested in an RTO by lawmakers to make that statement believable.

News coverage says it is otherwise. Pick a news outlet – Forbes, business journals, RTO Insider, UtilityDive – have all had stories that make transparent the goal of some policymakers.

Examples:

  • Forbes noted that one SC senator, “…called for the establishment of a regional transmission organization (RTO) that would disrupt the status quo…”
  • Also noted was a statement that an SC senator, “…sees advantages to establishing a regional transmission group including North Carolina, and possibly other Southeastern 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.” (More on a one-state RTO in a column to come.) (Source)
  • A 2019 article notes a New York Times columnist calling a South Carolina senator a “man of vision” for promoting an RTO for the state.

Whether a restructuring of the electric market happens is not the issue here. The power industry is changing. Companies need to adapt, and faster. Change is part of the system that creates efficiency or should create efficiency.

I am not sure the words efficiency and government can be referenced together.

Goals are okay. Even policymaker notions of what may be the outcome are okay.

Just be up-front about it. If a study is being done to pave the way or provide political cover for some larger energy market, just say it. One South Carolina senator said that studies can often be for something other than the stated intention.

A lot of press is out there that already says the RTO answer is already in ink.