The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

The South Carolina Electricity Market: Competition vs. Regulation

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Does the South Carolina electricity market need privatizing?  The last time South Carolina approved electricity deregulation was in 1997 with House bill 3414.  Yet consider what Texas has accomplished in recent years through privatization.

According to information released by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, privatizing the electricity market has lowered consumer prices, increased reliability, and fostered consumer choice through competition.

  • Data gathered from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reveals a reduction in prices for Texas residents under a competition-based electricity market.  The report shows, “Today, the average competitive price is 8.71% below the national average.”  The national average refers to the national regulated average.
  • Competition has also increased reliability.  For example, private electric companies trying to turn a profit build new generators as their customer base increases.  More generators mean more capacity for stored/reserved electricity.  Reserved electricity is quite valuable during unexpected heat waves that often occur in summer months, especially in Texas. The same would be the case in South Carolina.
  • The competition-based market in Texas is far more popular than the regulated electricity market.  In fact, “Almost 82% of consumers have actively chosen competitive rate plans.”

If South Carolina were to follow Texas’s lead, privatizing could lower consumer prices by encouraging competition and increasing reliability/power reserves.

Moreover, by monopolizing the electricity market, the state is directly competing with would-be private entrepreneurs. If state leaders are serious about growing the economy and stimulating free enterprise, they might start by deregulating the electricity industry.

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Written by SC Policy Council

February 24, 2010 at 11:56 am

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