New generating capacity is needed
I just returned from POWER-GEN and had a moment to read your opinion article in the November 1996 issue of Power Engineering. I agree with you wholeheartedly about the need for new generation. Although, I have to disagree with the next-to-last paragraph.
In an unregulated, competitive environment, reliability and availability become the slaves to the master of competition. No longer are they at the priority of the effort. Instead, it will be what affects the bottom line, with the bean counters counting all the way. Sure reliability will eventually win out, but it is going to be ugly–very, very ugly. The very reason for creating the regulated monopoly in the first place was to provide the reliability and availability that the system has enjoyed for all these years. In the competitive environment, these intangible factors will be sacrificed to remain competitive. The so-called “terrible prices” that will befall these companies have already started happening, in case you have not noticed. Regardless of what tomorrowÕs politicians think or say, they are the ones who must be held accountable for this mess. YouÕre right. We cannot turn back now. The genie is out of the bottle. Therefore, we must prepare and brace ourselves for this ugly onslaught. The regulators and “consumer advocates” will quickly do an about-face once the public recognizes how bad they`ve been snookered by the big industrials that reap the rewards that they pushed from under the guise of lower rates for the retail customer. I, for one, seriously doubt that the retail customer is prepared to sacrifice his availability and reliability of electricity for few cents less on his bill each month. We in this industry should learn from our nuclear fiasco of the 1960s and 1970s (lack of public communication and trust) and ensure that the blame is laid at the feet of those that forced this situation upon this great country, as we try to recover that which is lost (if we can.) It is a new ballgame that doesn`t require as many players now. You will see an exodus of experienced talent from this industry right when it will be needed the most (as youÕve pointed out.) Why do you think the big investor-owned utilities are moving as much of their assets offs
Larry G. Johnson