Travis Kavulla writes in National Review today about the benefits that have accrued to Ohio’s electricity consumers from market competition - and the state’s attempts to undermine those benefits with legislation to prop up uncompetitive generating assets….
Ohio’s legislature courageously voted to de-monopolize its electricity sector two decades ago. Since then, power generators have had to compete with one another for consumers’ business, rather than having their prices fixed by utility regulators.
Public policy only rarely has direct, and positive, effects on the price of a major commodity. This is one of those policies. Ohio has outperformed its neighbors Indiana and Kentucky, where the electric power industry remains fully monopolized. Those states have seen electricity prices increase about 30 percent from 2008 to 2016. Ohioans’ bills have risen, but only by half that. Ohio’s energy policy has allowed the state to capitalize on the massive Marcellus Shale gas fields that sit under Ohioans’ feet. When customers are not on the hook to monopolies for multi-decadal investments in power plants, capital more easily recirculates into newer, more efficient investments.
Now it’s just a matter of convincing state legislators to accept the fruits of their policy. Rather than amplifying the benefits of low-cost energy, the state has diminished them by furnishing handouts to the state’s erstwhile monopolies. Four of them — FirstEnergy, AEP, Duke, and Dayton Power & Light — have through legislation and regulation extracted more than $15 billion in subsidies since the state’s ostensible “deregulation,” according to the Ohio Consumer Counsel.