Power industry will have only itself to blame

ECONOMIC NAVIGATION AND SIGHTSEEING

Blogging Biz

June 29, 2008|By Jay Hancock

Recently I wrote that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan accused Edison Mission Energy of perpetuating suspicious electricity trading patterns on the Mid-Atlantic grid - patterns that Edison had told regulators it ceased in April 2006.

Combing through data kept by PJM Interconnection, which manages the grid for Maryland and a dozen other states, Madigan and consultant Robert McCullough identified plants they said were Edison's that seemed to be withholding power from the market in a possible attempt to drive up prices.

They couldn't be sure because PJM's data masks plants' identities. Edison Mission denied it operated the suspect plants, and now it says PJM confirms this.

But PJM spokesman Terry Williamson wouldn't confirm Edison Mission's claim, citing confidentiality rules. And my follow-up question - "If the plants doing the suspicious bidding aren't owned by Edison Mission, whose are they?" - didn't get a response, either.

Great. So there is prima facie evidence that somebody selling juice to BGE customers and 50 million other people is gaming the system. And PJM won't say anything about it - not to exonerate a company that was publicly alleged to have continued doing something irregular, and not to identify the real suspect.

There's your open, transparent wholesale electricity market for you. When electricity is ultimately re-regulated, generation companies and pro-market policymakers will have only themselves to blame.

jay.hancock@baltsun.com

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