Discussion Paper

Implementing Electricity Restructuring: Policies, Potholes, and Prospects

Jan 1, 2001 | Timothy J. Brennan, Karen L. Palmer, Salvador A. Martinez


Electricity is one of the last U.S. industries in which competition is replacing regulation. We briefly review the technology for producing and delivering power, the history of electricity policy, and recent state and international experience. We then outline the major questions facing policymakers as they decide whether, when, and how to implement restructuring. We conclude with some thoughts on the California electricity crisis and other political controversies. Although the California experience has come to define what it means for electricity markets to fail, most of the problems it raised are among those we know how to solve or prevent. The still unresolved make-or-break issue remains whether the cooperation necessary to maintain reliability is compatible with the degree of competition necessary to bring about greater efficiency and lower prices. This paper draws upon our forthcoming book, Alternating Curents: Electricity Markets and Public Policy.