Saturday, July 29, 2017

Power Struggle Is Taking Shape On a Mighty River : New York Times, 7/29/2017

A number of past posts have illustrated instances of public/private partnerships (P3s) as they apply to water and other infrastructure. According to Kirk Johnson, the writer of this article in the New York Times, the Trump administration has adopted this form of ownership as a way to accomplish his campaign promise to refurbish and repair U. S. infrastructure. The transfer of ownership would result in these benefits, Trump administrators assert, "lowering costs to taxpayers and improving efficiency" (p. A12). The article mentioned these assets as potential targets for sale: the Bonneville Power Administration on the Columbia River, and "two other big public power operators, based in Colorado and Oklahoma" (p. A12). 

Proponents of  P3s in the article argued that privatization promotes fairness. "Low prices in a nonprofit system have been a huge boost to economic growth" (p. 13). They welcome a debate on subsidized and non-subsidized energy. Rural and areas of low population density that have received subsidies oppose losing federal support. Such areas have attracted large companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon to build data centers, requiring large amounts of hydro-power. Federally subsidized systems stall the adoption of renewable energy sources, such as wind, claim other proponents of P3s. Some attribute subsidies as the reason for the unwillingness of Bonneville Power Administration and others to incorporate renewables into the grid.  Others contend that privatization would not solve the problem of integration of non-renewable and renewable resources into the grid. Utilities should commit to integrations with or without privatization, they conclude.

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