R_103CWR - The California Electricity Crisis: Causes and...

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The California Electricity Crisis: Causes and Policy Options ••• Christopher Weare 2003 PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE OF CALIFORNIA
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Weare, Christopher. The California electricity crisis: causes and policy options / Christopher Weare. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN: 1-58213-064-7 1. Electric utilities—Government policy—California. 2. Electric industries—California. 3. Energy policy—California. I. Title. HD9685.U53 C294 2002 333.793'2'09794—dc21 2002151734 Research publications reflect the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff, officers, or Board of Directors of the Public Policy Institute of California. Copyright © 2003 by Public Policy Institute of California All rights reserved San Francisco, CA Short sections of text, not to exceed three paragraphs, may be quoted without written permission provided that full attribution is given to the source and the above copyright notice is included.
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iii Foreword Understanding the interplay of events behind California’s recent energy crisis is a formidable challenge. Even more formidable is imagining the policy changes that can rebuild the state’s energy markets. Christopher Weare’s report, The California Electricity Crisis: Causes and Policy Options , addresses both of these challenges. It serves as a useful guide to a complex chain of events as well as a helpful description of options that state officials will weigh as they design and implement the next set of policy solutions. Policymakers and general audiences alike can draw several lessons from Weare’s analysis. The first is that energy policy is forged out of a complex blend of technical, economic, political, and historical realities. Energy provision, pricing, and distribution are determined by what the engineers know is possible, what the regulators think should be done, and what the politicians want to see. This complexity makes it difficult to implement sweeping changes without generating unintended consequences. As Weare points out, such consequences impose costs of their own, not all of which are well understood when the initial reforms are proposed and implemented. Related to this first lesson is the possibility that frustrated observers will propose simplistic solutions to complex problems. Some may even try to implement their reforms through the initiative process. If residents wish to avoid price swings in their electricity bills, a proposition to this effect could gain widespread support. Such solutions, however, could make efficient and low-cost energy even more difficult to provide. One gathers from Weare’s analysis that accommodating the intricacies of this market and crafting effective solutions will be a difficult task no matter who controls the policy levers in Sacramento.
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This note was uploaded on 06/16/2010 for the course MS&E 369 taught by Professor Blakejohnson during the Spring '08 term at Stanford.

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R_103CWR - The California Electricity Crisis: Causes and...

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