Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Federal Electricity Competition Report Overdue

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established a federal Interagency Task Force to "conduct a study and analysis of competition within the wholesale and retail market for electric energy in the United States." When that group issued a request for public comments on October 19, 2005, it portrayed its role as being to report to Congress on "the critical elements for effective wholesale and retail competition, the status of each element, impediments to realizing each element, and suggestions for overcoming these impediments."

Numerous commenters, including the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) criticized the federal Task Force for appearing to have started out with a conclusion that retail and wholesale electric competition are desirable and should be promoted by the federal government, when that is decidedly not the view of the majority of states. Only sixteen states and the District of Columbia restructured their electric utilities to create wholesale and retail markets, no state has done so since 2000, and six states that had passed restructuring laws have now repealed them or delayed their implementation.

A draft report was issued by the federal Task Force June 5, 2006, giving the public only until June 26 to respond. Comments were filed by NASUCA, PULP and others pointing out shortcomings in the draft report.

The notice accompanying the Draft Report of the Task Force indicated that "A final report will be delivered to Congress on or before August 8, 2006 in accordance with the statutory deadline."

The "statutory deadline" has passed, and now nearly a month overdue, the Task Force report has not been filed.

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