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Letter: We shouldn't be forced to play utility monopoly's game

A recent editorial from the Tulsa World makes the undeniable point that the $2 billion in approved or requested rate increases for electricity sales are a painful burden for Oklahoma families (“Scrutinize every dollar asked,” Nov. 30). No one could disagree with the assertion that the Corporation Commissioners should “scrutinize every dollar being requested.”

From there, however, the editorial diverges into a misguided defense of the current system – in which two utilities hold monopolies on the sale of electricity – and a rejection of inserting choice and competition into the market, which it incorrectly labels “deregulation.”

Proponents of choice and competition in electricity sales agree the Corporation Commission should regulate the sale of electricity in Oklahoma to ensure that families and businesses have access to affordable and reliable electricity. The objection that many have is not to the concept of regulation, but to the concept of monopoly power. Oklahomans should not be forced to do business with government-assigned electricity vendors if they don’t like their prices.

The editorial also points to a “failed deregulation system in Texas.” Again, proponents of choice and competition in Oklahoma are not proposing to copy a “Texas model.” Oklahoma is and will remain on the Southwest Power Pool, whereas Texas is an island unto itself. Furthermore, the Corporation Commission could regulate a competitive market in such a way that residents could not experience unreasonable price shocks.

Airlines and cellular communications, to use two examples, are heavily regulated industries that have benefited from choice and competition. Why not electricity sales?

Editor's Note: Mike Boyd is the executive director of Alliance for Electrical Restructuring in Oklahoma and principal of MKBoyd Energy Consulting.

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