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Posts Tagged ‘regulations’

Investing in the Grid: When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough get … Creative

August 2nd, 2012


The unexpected storms that knocked out power to millions in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic earlier this month highlighted how fragile America’s electric grid is. But while front page photos of fallen trees and utility repair trucks capture people’s attention, there’s a much more grave and fundamental threat to our electric grid.

The U.S. grid system was born in the 1920s, and has seen few major upgrades since the 1960s. With America’s growing population and exploding demand—bigger houses, A/C units, TVs, iThings—we have serious congestion and inadequate capacity on our nation’s power lines. This has led to more frequent power outages, which cost the American economy well over $100 billion each year. The inefficiency of our old-fashioned grid also leads to enormous waste through “line loss.” In 2010, 6.6% of the electricity generated in the U.S. simply disappeared before it could reach consumers. That’s $25.7 billion worth of electrons, lost into thin air. Read the rest of this entry »

Did regs kill the horse-drawn carriage?

April 9th, 2012


This piece was originally posted on National Journal.

Blaming regulation for the decline of coal is like blaming cars for the demise of horse-drawn carriages. The market, not big bad regulators, replaced an antiquated technology with a more efficient one.

Coal is a nineteenth century technology that maintained dominance in the electricity sector because it was cheap. The precipitous decline in natural gas prices, thanks to hydraulic fracturing, are eliminating cost as a reason to use coal. The result has been a boom in new natural gas power plants, along with a dramatic increase in solar and wind power (whose prices are also declining rapidly), and virtually no new coal plants.

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Year of the Dragon Present Choices for China on Trade

February 15th, 2012


This piece originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

According to Chinese tradition, the coming “Year of the Dragon” will bring success and happiness. But, for modern China, 2012 will also be a year of decision. The choices China makes will have important implications for its future and America’s, and for the health of global trade.

Last year marked China’s 10th anniversary as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). When it joined the WTO, China made a deal. In exchange for expanded market access to the WTO’s now 150+ members, China agreed to adopt free market reforms and significantly open its economy to foreign trade. And because China had much market-opening work to do, the WTO gave China a significant part of the past decade to phase in reforms.

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