11/01/2023 - Electricity Law Initiative

Replacing the Utility Transmission Syndicate’s Control

by Ari Peskoe

Technological progress can topple industry titans. But in the electricity industry, entrenched power can stymie disruptive change by setting rules that block competition and reinforce the status quo. In Replacing the Utility Transmission Syndicate’s Control (soon to be published in Energy Law Journal), Ari Peskoe, Director of our Electricity Law Initiative, chronicles how regional power sector governance — the decisionmaking processes and structures used to change industry rules — is impeding innovation that could challenge incumbent firms, business models, and technologies.

Regional industry rules substantially affect the price and reliability of electric service and shape the industry’s future. Market and transmission rules determine who can generate and transmit electricity and influence the mix of resources powering the region. The electric power industry is in the early phase of a technological revolution, but the commercial interests and individual entities that held formal power and informal influence in regional decisionmaking processes are largely the same today as they were twenty-five years ago. As a result, regional rules tend to cater to incumbents’ interests, to the detriment of competition, consumers, and innovation. Ari’s paper explains why regional governance stagnated, details how the power industry changes its the rules, and outlines a path for reform.

Ari discusses his paper with Hannah Dobie in our CleanLaw podcast.

See Ari’s previous paper in this series, Is the Utility Transmission Syndicate Forever?