The “utility death spiral”: The utility as a regulatory creation

Knowledge Problem

Unless you follow the electricity industry you may not be aware of the past year’s discussion of the impending “utility death spiral”, ably summarized in this Clean Energy Group post:

There have been several reports out recently predicting that solar + storage systems will soon reach cost parity with grid-purchased electricity, thus presenting the first serious challenge to the centralized utility model.  Customers, the theory goes, will soon be able to cut the cord that has bound them to traditional utilities, opting instead to self-generate using cheap PV, with batteries to regulate the intermittent output and carry them through cloudy spells.  The plummeting cost of solar panels, plus the imminent increased production and decreased cost of electric vehicle batteries that can be used in stationary applications, have combined to create a technological perfect storm. As grid power costs rise and self-generation costs fall, a tipping point will arrive…

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US Courts Ordering Wind Power Operators to Buy Out Noise-Affected Neighbours at Market Rates

STOP THESE THINGS

Life next to industrial wind turbines is a living hell for all too many rural residents.

Practically incessant turbine-generated low-frequency noise and infra-sound drives neighbours nuts, preventing them from sleeping in – and otherwise enjoying the comforts of – their very own homes.

An Australian Court found long-term exposure to wind turbine noise to be a pathway to disease: Australian Court Finds Wind Turbine Noise Exposure a ‘Pathway to Disease’: Waubra Foundation Vindicated

And that decision only adds to the wind industry’s greatest fear that, one day soon, the unvarnished law will be applied in favour of their thousands of victims.

The common law tort of nuisance protects property rights by preventing the unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of land by, among other things, excessive noise: Judge finds case to answer in Falmouth Nuisance Claim

Wind power outfits alive to the risk of multi-million-dollar payouts bully and coerce neighbours into…

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No end to hereditary peer by-elections in the House of Lords?

The Constitution Unit Blog

downloadThe House of Lords is not entirely unelected; July saw two new peers appointed following elections involving a very small, select group of electors. In this post, former Clerk of the Parliaments David Beamish discusses the process by which hereditary peers can be elected to the Lords, how the system came to exist, and the continuing efforts to remove the remaining hereditaries altogether. 

It was announced on 18 July that Lord Bethell had been elected to fill a vacancy among the 90 elected hereditary peers in the House of Lords – the 34th such vacancy to be filled by means of a by-election. The vacancy arose from the retirement of the Conservative peer Lord Glentoran (the House’s only Winter Olympic gold medallist) on 1 June. These by-elections are conducted using the alternative vote system and, despite there being 11 candidates, Lord Bethell did not need any transfers of votes, receiving…

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Image

And So It Begins …

The Regency Redingote

The Bicentennial of the English Regency, that is.

This coming Sunday, 6 February 2011, marks the 200th anniversary of the day on which the Prince of Wales took the oaths which made him Regent of Great Britain. The day on which the English Regency officially began. And, in large part, thanks to Georgette Heyer, for many of us, our favorite period in English history. Certainly, it is mine.

Briefly, why a regency was needed, some of the notable events which preceded its implementation and some details about the solemn ceremonies which took place on that very important day, two hundred years ago, this Sunday …

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‘Dead Poets Society’ Opened #OTD 1989

Is Iceland Krugman’s Inadvertent Case for the Monetary Policy Offset of Fiscal Policy?

Historinhas

A Mark Sadowski post

On May 28, Paul Krugman exclaimed:

 “Back in 2013, when Olivier Blanchard presented a paper on Latvia at the Brookings Panel, many of the participants were bemused: why was the august panel devoting so much time to a country with the population of Brooklyn? But Latvia was, for a time, the great poster child for austerity….And now, as Frances Coppola notes, the era of rapid bounce back has stalled out.”

Krugman proceeds to compare the Real GDP performance of Latvia with that of Iceland. If one clicks on through to Coppola’s post, they learn that Latvia “embarked on a brutal front-loaded fiscal consolidation in 2009, sacking public sector workers, slashing public sector salaries, cutting benefits and raising taxes.”

Then on June 9, Krugman states:

 “I was, I think, one of the first commentators to notice that a funny thing was happening in Iceland: the nation…

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End Iran’s Gender Apartheid Now | NYT – Opinion

What Made The American Civil War so Deadly? | Animated History

The European Commission’s Google Android decision takes a mistaken, ahistorical view of the smartphone market

Truth on the Market

What to make of Wednesday’s decision by the European Commission alleging that Google has engaged in anticompetitive behavior? In this post, I contrast the European Commission’s (EC) approach to competition policy with US antitrust, briefly explore the history of smartphones and then discuss the ruling.

Asked about the EC’s decision the day it was announced, FTC Chairman Joseph Simons noted that, while the market is concentrated, Apple and Google “compete pretty heavily against each other” with their mobile operating systems, in stark contrast to the way the EC defined the market. Simons also stressed that for the FTC what matters is not the structure of the market per se but whether or not there is harm to the consumer. This again contrasts with the European Commission’s approach, which does not require harm to consumers. As Simons put it:

Once they [the European Commission] find that a company is dominant… that…

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