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How Are Hospitals and Electric Utilities Alike?

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Both are regulated monopolies. Government monopolies. Patients and customers are denied the benefits of competition. Patients have fewer choices and get government medicine. Customers get more expensive and less reliable electricity.

Hospitals have Certificates of Need. They are issued by bureaucrats empowered by the legislature. Patients are like fish. CON’s are licenses for favored hospitals and their employees to catch and treat them – according to official protocols and The Science. Remember Dr. Fauci? He forgot: First do no harm.

Entergy and Mississippi Power have the Public Service Commission. It’s like a security force with lawyers. It protects utility monopoly service areas and rubber stamps utility solar and other schemes.

The Mississippi Legislature enables both. The monopolies are grateful. They say thanks with campaign contributions. And with jobs for revolving door regulators. And with perks. A Senate Energy Committee Chairperson proudly posted a selfie taken in Entergy’s New Orleans Saints Skybox. Did Entergy’s CEO get her cell number? Do customers pay for the Skybox?

Here’s an example of how the PSC limits competition – with an assist from lawmakers. Entergy recently discovered it needed more generating capacity after shutting down two ancient natural gas plants. So it issued a Request for Proposal for new plants. You would think the RFP would be for modern reliable natural gas plants. You would be wrong.

The RFP was for renewable solar plants only. Not natural gas plants. (They will be added later to keep the lights on.) How did state lawmakers grease the skids for solar? And exclude natural gas plants?

The PSC was up for reauthorization in 2020. The legislature perfunctorily voted to extend its life four more years. It also gratuitously authorized utilities to buy solar power from third parties (or utility subs), mark up the cost, and make customers pay for it.

You may have heard people say Mississippi is a backward state. We’re not. We are cutting edge in utility law. We are the only state that authorizes a Corporate Entergy  sub to buy electricity from solar plants it didn’t build, mark up the cost, and charge customers a handling fee. Is that cutting edge – or what?

We seem to be working hard to contaminate our electric grid with solar power so we can have blackouts too like California. Cool huh?

In case you forgot what causes blackouts, solar power is intermittent. It’s not on all the time. It’s obviously not on at night when the sun’s not shinning. But it’s not on in the daytime most of the time either during the fall and winter. For example, as noted in a prior article, Entergy’s Mississippi Sunflower solar plant generated electricity 14% of the time September 2022 – March 2023 on average and only 6% of the time in December 2022.

Why is intermittent electricity that works occasionally a problem? It’s not unless you want your lights to come on when you flip the switch. If you do, there has to be another plant generating

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