“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.
There is a lot of talk these days about the affordability of electric bills. Often, when listening in on such a conversation, I have asked myself, are they talking about today's electric affordability, in this instance, or tomorrow's electric affordability?
For if the focus is today's electric affordability, the concerns are about those households in the present having difficulties in making ends meet. And how their electric bills factor in that equation.
If the focus is instead tomorrow's electric affordability, the concerns are about the impact on households generally, in the future, as a consequence of the substantial investments required by the energy transformation. And whether that impact is sustainable, politically, and in utility regulation.
This article addresses the latter, tomorrow's electric affordability. The former, today's electric affordability, is addressed in "The Electric Affordability Factbook," published last month by Public Utilities Fortnightly.
Tomorrow's Electric Affordability
The energy transformation is a broad societal initiative to reimagine how Americans make, move, and consume energy. The central objective is of course to slash the emission of climate change gases. A secondary objective, of not that much less importance, concerns the transformation's affordability.