"Competition is Good!"
We in Colorado are in an excellent position to create competitive electricity markets from the ground up, rather than having to fix an existing market that was designed for a different energy era, as is happening in other states that already have competitive electricity markets.
The Energy Freedom project is a group of people with varied backgrounds who are exploring the idea of competitive wholesale and retail electricity markets in Colorado, where consumers (or communities) can choose their electricity provider. Colorado is currently a "vertically-integrated monopoly state," but we feel it no longer makes sense to treat electricity as a so-called "natural monopoly." We would expect competition between electricity providers to bring us cheaper and cleaner electricity if done right.
Competitive electricity markets in other states have many lessons to teach us. The initial stage of this Project is to gather and organize those lessons, research "best practices," and better understand what characteristics of an electricity market would work best for consumers (or "ratepayers"). What rules and regulations would lead to thriving competitive electricity markets in Colorado?
We are keen to work with people who can help clarify the essential characteristics of a desirable 21st century electricity system in Colorado. Please contact us if you have skills, knowledge or connections to contribute to this goal.
It's already clear that competitive electricity markets work, and that they have even greater promise as judged by the progress being made in other states. It's also clear that some approaches are better than others, and that NOW is the perfect time to consider competitive electricity markets in Colorado and elsewhere.
The current outdated way of meeting demand for electricity is to ramp up or down the supply of electricity from large centralized power plants. These days new technology and understanding allows for electricity generation from thousands to millions of "distributed energy resources," from utility scale to community scale to individual rooftops.
The demand side of the equation can now be adjusted too. Technologies such as energy storage and demand response blur the lines between supply and demand. Renewable energy resources paired with battery storage can shift supply from cheap periods of abundance to expensive periods of peak demand, saving ratepayers tons of money. Things are going to change anyway, so we should ensure that the change best serves ratepayers and society.
Where is this Project headed? Well, it's too soon to say. We are now at the beginning of Step 1, which is to understand the best characteristics for a 21st century electricity system in Colorado, based upon lessons learned from other states and from thought leaders. Step 2 is to explore our options for getting there. Then Step 3 is to get there.
Energy geeks, here's a challenge: What are the key high-level characteristics of a regulatory model and a utility business model that would enable an efficient 21st century grid that frees up the potential of new technology and knowledge gained over the last decade or so? (Supported by solid references!)
We invite other groups or experts thinking along similar lines to engage with us. We welcome help with research. Soon we'll start a mailing list to keep interested people informed. Here's how to Contact Us.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.