Author Archives: Severin Borenstein

The Decline of Sloppy Electricity Rate Making

Back in the “good old days” most customers had no choice about how to buy electricity and a regulator’s life was pretty easy.  The utility needed sufficient revenue to cover its costs, but the regulator approving rates was mostly just … Continue reading

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Winners and Losers from Flattening Tiered Electricity Prices

The California Public Utilities Commission is moving closer to major changes in the steeply increasing-block residential electricity rates that the state has had since the 2000-01 California electricity crisis.  This Friday the Commissioners may decide to significantly flatten the tiered … Continue reading

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What Put California at the Top of Residential Solar?

California leads the nation in residential solar photovoltaic installations.  In fact, nearly half of all systems installed have been in the Golden State. So why is California the leader?  Sure, California has plenty of sunshine, but there are many other … Continue reading

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Is the Future of Electricity Generation Really Distributed?

Renewable energy technologies have made outstanding progress in the last decade.  The cost of solar panels has plummeted.  Wind turbines have become massively more efficient.  In many places some forms of renewable energy are cost competitive.  And yet…just as these … Continue reading

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In Praise of Cleaner-burning Gasoline

Last week was spring break at UC Berkeley, so I took a few days off for a very pleasant vacation, walking by the ocean with friends and enjoying the beauty of California. As a result, I wasn’t able to be … Continue reading

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The Job Creation Shuffle

Renewable energy proponents and advocates of the Keystone pipeline finally agree on something: that the right way to count “job creation” is to focus narrowly on the jobs in the industry they want to boost and ignore the overall impact … Continue reading

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Oil price crash shows the challenge of breaking addiction

The price of crude oil has fallen more than 50% since summer and drivers are responding exactly as economists would predict.  Americans are driving more, the market for SUVs is roaring again and the average fuel economy of new cars … Continue reading

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What’s a University to do about Climate Change?

About a year ago, I blogged about the fossil fuel divestment movement at universities, arguing that it is unlikely to have any effect, and that even if it did it would be to raise fuel prices, which we could do … Continue reading

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What’s so Great about Fixed Charges?

There’s a lot of talk in California these days about imposing fixed monthly charges on residential electricity bills.  The large investor-owned utilities in California have small or no fixed charges,[1] instead collecting all of their revenue from households through usage-based … Continue reading

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Rationalizing California’s Residential Electricity Rates

California is finally talking seriously about changing the way utilities price electricity for residential customers.  In particular, as a result of recent legislative actions, the CPUC now has some flexibility to modify the extreme increasing-block pricing (IBP) schedules that were … Continue reading

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