Free-Market Think Tank Enters Electric Power Business

Free-Market Think Tank Enters Electric Power Business

Demands Immediate Access to Utility Wires
February 04, 1998

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a free market think tank, today announced its entry into the electric power market and demanded that utilities open up the power grid to its services.

CEI Fellow in Regulatory Studies Wayne Crews noted, "The pervasive thinking among so-called reformers is that just because somebody spins magnets, they have a right of access to utility wires property. Well, we’re tired of fighting that idea. We want in on some of this money."

CEI Digital Electric Company’s™ first generating plant, pictured below, is a 2-volt generator with an overall customer base capacity of 0.025 amp, served by a 60.9m, #30 AWG transmission wire. Current from the facility is generated by four rotating 1 x 2 x 5cm ceramic magnets.

Start-up capital costs were $7.91. Considerable cost savings over conventional generation are expected given the unique digitally powered architecture, however Crews conceded, "My fingers are blistered from spinning the thing. And I miss my family."

Longer term, the Institute’s installations may employ rodents in tread-wheel turbines. More immediate CEI generating ventures will incorporate flying kites in thunderstorms with keys attached to the strings. The resulting electricity will be distributed over utility wires provided nettlesome employee health insurance issues can be worked out.

Chimed in CEI President Fred Smith, "It’s a blessed outrage what chumps we’ve been. I’ve spent years defending markets and property rights, when we could have been cashing in royally. Well no more." Smith continued, "And think of the fossil fuel savings if this manual technology is widely adopted. Besides, since idle hands do the Devil’s work, we may even cut crime." His voice rising, Smith continued, "The question isn’t, ‘Can we afford to equip every man, woman and child with this technology,’ it’s ‘Can we afford not to?’"

BUT SERIOUSLY . . .

CEI leads the fight in opposing mandatory open access to the grid, on the principle that the mere act of generating electricity does not create a right to force someone else to deliver it. As CEI details in recent publications, competition can be fully realized without forced open access (See "Electric Utility Reform: The Free Market Alternative to Mandatory Open Access, Electricity Journal, Vol. 10, No. 10, December 97). Instead, exclusive delivery franchises must be abolished, thereby freeing newcomers to broker their own power delivery deals. For example, if not shut out by protected delivery franchises, newcomers can actively team up with gas, telecom and other network industries that already enjoy rights of way to consumers. Such competitive threats will often induce utilities to voluntarily provide open access to existing wires. There is no need for government to administer forced open access "competition" on the entire power grid if real markets are permitted instead.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is a Washington-based public interest group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. Contact Wayne Crews for info at 202-331-1010.