Looking for ways to celebrate the summer solstice? Tune in to the FTC's workshop on competition and consumer protection issues in solar energy. Tomorrow, on June 21, scientists, academics, regulators, and other industry experts will come together for a series of presentations and roundtables to discuss:
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Look up and you just might see one: solar panels are on top of more homes and businesses than ever before. Around the country, rooftop solar is an increasingly important source of electricity. For many customers with solar panels, solar power provides most of their electricity; many even sell power back to the power company.
The New York State Public Service Commission is on a path to move away from traditional cost-of-service regulation for electric utilities. This is good news for New York consumers who might be looking to lower their electric bill or reduce their reliance on the power grid. In fact, the policy move is motivated by advances in energy technology, increased concerns about the environmental impact of fossil-fuel generation, and consumers’ interest in having more direct control over their electric service.
It’s easy to be blasé about electric power: Flip a switch and the lights come on. Plug in your phone and it recharges. Maybe you have a vague sense that behind the plug is a vast infrastructure of lines and junction boxes, all leading back to far-away power plants that generate electricity. But new technologies and growing interest in ‘green’ energy sources are prompting policymakers to rethink public utility regulation – and suddenly, what happens behind that plug could get a whole lot more interesting.
Some will remember 1976 as the year of the nation’s bicentennial, but it was also the year that Congress gave the antitrust agencies an important tool to prevent harmful mergers before the harm occurs and before the assets and operations of the merging parties are joined in a way that precludes effective relief after-the-fact.
The FTC’s status as an independent agency, secured in an early constitutional challenge to the FTC Act, was tested during the early years of the Cold War when the agency’s international work provoked a national security debate at the highest levels.
This will come as no shock to anyone familiar with the Federal Trade Commission’s policy and advocacy function: FTC staff has a long history of advocating for effective competition and consumer protection in electricity markets.