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Articles by Sean Casten

Sean Casten is president & CEO of Recycled Energy Development, LLC, a company devoted to profitably reducing greenhouse emissions.

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  • Political courage needed for change

    Getting our energy policy right does not require new technology, added societal cost, or economic disruption. However, it does require the political courage to question the sacred cows that have shaped 100 years of electric-market regulation.

    A few ideas that are missing from the energy debate:

    1. Fossil fuel use in the U.S. is split approximately in thirds between transportation fuels, electric power generation, and heat generation (buildings, industrials, etc.). GHG emissions track accordingly.
    2. The electric industry is -- with very limited exceptions -- a regulated monopoly, subject to cost-plus pricing. This has been the case for 100 years. In other words, they have had a 100-year incentive to overconsume fossil fuel.
    3. Adam Smith never said anything about profits causing the public good. What he did say is that the pursuit of profits in a competitive market engenders the public good. The second half of this clause is entirely missing from the electric sector.

    Why this matters: