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Wow, what a great article.  Here in the US, there are two big regional state-owned utilities: the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).  Both of them were created during the 1930s to generate electricity from dams, and they provided cheap and reliable power for decades.  TVA also brought in much higher standards of training and pay for its workers, compared to other companies in its region.  Unfortunately, neither TVA nor BPA was able to handle the transition from hydropower to nuclear energy, and that damaged their reputations, and the very idea of government ownership.

There are also many utilities owned by US cities.  Some of the biggest, like the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, own significant generating capacity, and have strong technical reputations.  During the California power crisis a few years ago, Los Angeles was did not have any blackouts, because of its independent generating plants.

One reason that the US has experienced large blackouts is that the utilities are not investing in spare generating capacity or transmission lines.  Deregulation has forced them to deliver short term financial results at the expense of long term planning.

by corncam on Sun Sep 4th, 2005 at 06:48:24 PM EST

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