In case readers are unsure of where I stand on the question of electric utility deregulation (after the blog post I put up last night), I have a couple of thoughts and will try to clarify.
First and most importantly, both investor owned utilities (like Arizona Public Service) and quasi-municipal companies (like Salt River Project) could and should have been leading the way on implementation of new technologies to transform the industry. Because those enterprises rely more on inertia than on innovation, they risk many things, including our health (clean air and water for starters) and their very existence.
Disruptive innovation that has transformed other industries can and will soon bring technologies that will -- cost effectively -- power our homes and workplaces in ways that are more in harmony with sustainable living on Planet Earth. Such innovation will also enhance reliability, dramatically reduce externalities (the costs to society from burning fossil fuels) and gradually, if not rapidly, reduce direct cost to consumers for electricity.
I agree with the objection raised recently by utility advocates, the editorial board of the Arizona Republic and columnist Bob Robb that the Arizona Corporation Commission should not abdicate its constitutional role in setting rates for consumers. That such issues are or can be separate and distinct from the possibility of changing the structure of retail electricity delivery systems seems simple -- conceptually -- even if it might take a bevy of engineers and attorneys to figure out how to implement.