[Michael Kinnucan]

I think it's unhelpful to describe what's happening in Texas as the result of "deregulation." The power market structure that Texas has isn't the market structure that happens when the state walks away and leaves the private sector to its own devices; rather, the state made a policy choice 30 years ago to do a certain set of things (separate power generation from power transmission, set up ERCOT to manage the balance of generation and use from minute to minute, decide that what would be traded was power generation rather than power generation capacity, etc. etc.) to replace one kind of market (the market of monopoly local utilities serving a stable customer base, well or poorly) with a different kind of market (the cleared space of transmission where power producers trade electricity statewide at a constantly updated price in response to momentary demand).

That's a classically neoliberal project but it's not a *deregulatory* project. Neoliberal rhetoric likes to pretend that markets will function best when the state gets out of the way of private enterprise, but markets aren't what happens when states get out of the way, markets are produced and maintained by the state. The neoliberal project in many cases and certainly in this case isn't one of reducing state intervention in the "private sector" but of using state intervention to generate and intensify markets.


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