California may build a regional power grid, but environmentalists worry the very existence of a cleaner system might encourage partner Wyoming to continue to rely on coal. Moving from 38 separate grid management companies to one could streamline the regional power system. What are the precedents for effective consolidation and management of disparate, separate, divergent power systems? Would privatization be a strategic option?
A possible precedent study might be PowerGen, one of three companies formed by the British government from the former CEGB (Central Electricity Generating Board). The three were: Nuclear Electric, comprised of all the nuclear stations in t \he UK; National Power, 70% fossil fuel; and PowerGen whose mission was to generate electricity in a free market. In addition to the three new entities, the government spun out twelve electricity distribution companies, led together through National Grid, owned by the twelve. While power resources grew, human resources reduced: the organization went from 1,800 to 400. Two years later, PowerGen and National Power privatized. As nations and regions develop their future energy strategies, will PowerGen’s experience suggest approaches? Another option for a regional strategy of power generation and revenue sharing might be the experience of Brazil and Paraguay with Itaipú. What forms of energy – coal, hydro, nuclear, renewables like wind and solar – will power the future? Should energy be public or private, or both? Where will future leaders emerge? Appointed chief executive just before the transformation of PowerGen, later Ed Wallis became chair of the Natural Environment Research Council. A life motto: Every private should have a field marshal’s baton in knapsack, just in case. How might the UK further develop an effective energy strategy in light of Brexit? Are there lessons – in PowerGen or Itaipú – for the United States? What can California, and the western region, do to generate, distribute, preserve, renew, and share energy? How do you think we should power the future?
Green, E.J. “On the emergence of parliamentary government: the role of private information.” Federal Reserve of Minneapolis Quarterly Review 17 (1), 1993, pp. 2-16.
Gribben, Roland. “Ed Wallis: the power man turns himself green.” 9 July 2009. The Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/profiles/5779034/Ed-Wallis-the-power-man-turns-himself-green.html
Litwin, George H., John J. Bray, Kathleen Lusk Brooke. “The Privatization of PowerGen.” Mobilizing the Organization: Bringing Strategy to Life. ISBN: 0131488910. Prentice-Hall: 1996, pp. 95-105.
National Environment Research Council (NERC). https://nerc.ukri.org/search-results/?keywords=ed+wallis&siteid=nerc
Penn, Ivan. “California Wants to Reinvent the Power Grid – So What Could Go Wrong?” 20 July 2018. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/business/energy-environment/california-energy-grid-jerry-brown-plan.html
Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License