Author: Jess Del Fiacco          Published: 10/14/21          ILSR

In this episode of Building Local Power, ILSR Co-Director John Farrell is joined by Chris Villarreal, President of Plugged In Strategies and an Associate Fellow with the R Street Institute. Their discussion focuses on monopoly power in the energy sector, and how lack of competition impacts consumers and stands in the way of progress.

Highlights of their conversation include:

  • What’s behind growing interest in public takeovers of electric utilities.
  • Why electricity markets were originally designed as monopolies and why that structure doesn’t fit the way energy use and production has evolved.
  • How utilities use their monopoly power to shape regulation and limit competition.
  • Rethinking utilities and the energy distribution system in order to incentivize competition.

“What I’m hopeful for, and what we’re seeing, is that with the growth of distributed resources like rooftop solar, community, solar and the like, is that consumers, you and I, have more options now available to us if we so choose. We don’t need to rely 100% on the utility to provide us electricity. We have abilities now to put solar on our roof or participate in a community solar garden project, which introduces competition, which is good because now it should be imparting cost pressure onto the company.”

“Just because it’s public doesn’t mean it’s going to be run well. Just because it’s private doesn’t mean it’s going to be run poorly. It really all is in the rules.”