Spectrum, IEEE (December 2010)
Most of us take for granted that the lights will work when we flip them on, without worrying too much about the staggeringly complex things needed to make that happen. Thank the engineers who designed and built the power grids for that- but don't thank them too much. Their main goal was reliability; keeping the cost of electricity down was less of a concern. That's in part why so many people in the United States complain about high electricity prices. Some armchair economists (and a quite a few real ones) have long argued that the solution is deregulation. After all, many other U.S. industries have been deregulated- take, for instance, oil, natural gas, or trucking- and greater competition in those sectors swiftly brought prices down. Why not electricity?
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