No Root Cause Exists

Issue 10 and Volume 102.


No Root

Cause Exists

The August 1998 issue of Power Engineering continues the magazine`s important skeptical approach to regulation and supportive approach to free market forces. However, Dr. Zink uses the disturbing phrase “the root cause of supply and transmission problems.”

This implies that there is one root cause. In plain English, a root cause differs from a cause that is not “root” in that a root cause is not in turn caused by a more important underlying cause. Complex problems do not generally have a single root cause. Furthermore, the root causes are generally at the bottom of the Why Staircase of inquiry.

Supply and transmission problems are system problems that are the natural and inevitable result of the behaviors of the decision makers. They need to understand that there is not one root cause. I don`t for a minute think that the decision makers think that there is one root cause, but I am concerned at the use of such thinking in Power Engineering.

We don`t have easy access to the root causes of supply and transmission problems. But we are relatively certain of the following: In systems, delays are part of the causation of oscillations. For example, delay in the availability of load growth information and capacity growth information are involved in the periodic oversupply and undersupply of power. If governmental action can increase the quality and timeliness of load growth and capacity growth information the oscillatory component of supply and transmission problems are likely to be reduced. Perhaps this can be done without legislation.

William R. Corcoran, Ph.D., P.gif.

Windsor, Conn.