“Lines Down: How We Pay, Use, Value Grid Electricity Amid the Storm,” 2013, is among the five books Steve Mitnick has authored on electricity’s economics, history, and people. He extensively participated in utility regulatory proceedings as an expert witness on cost of capital and other issues, and taught economics and statistics while on the faculty of Georgetown University.
Two weeks ago, Public Utilities Fortnightly published the sixty-page "Electric Affordability Factbook," providing new quantitative detail on those electric utilities' residential customers that are struggling with affordability. You can freely pick up your copy at fortnightly.com. Here we present the Factbook's Executive Summary with its twenty-five takeaways. And figures from Chapter II, Electric Bills.
There is precious little that electric utilities and utility regulation can do to lessen the burden on the many households that face challenges making ends meet, every month, every week, and even every day. This wouldn't be the case if these households' electric bills were a sizable slice of their expenditures to get by. But only a minority of such households are presented by their electric utilities with bills exceeding three percent of their expenditures in total, as this Factbook has shown, particularly for such households not living in the South, and particularly for such households living in cities.
What can we do to move the affordability needle for these households? Put another way, what holds the most promise to do so that is in the toolbox of electric utilities and utility regulation?