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California Electricity: Facts, Myths, and National Lessons

AUTHOR: Lovins, Amory
DOCUMENT ID: U01-02
YEAR: 2001
DOCUMENT TYPE: Presentation
PUBLISHER: RMI
 

In this presentation to the Worldwatch Institute, Amory Lovins revisits the issue of the electricity crisis in California in the late 1990s. The presentation brings up alleged causes of the crisis, which Lovins dispels. He presents evidence that the crisis was caused by, among other things, ineffective restructuring of electric utilities, anti-competitive practices, and spikes in natural gas prices. He concludes by specifying lessons that should be learned from the situation: markets produce surprises, but don’t serve the public without rules; efficiency remains the biggest opportunity; boom-bust cycles are costly and unnecessary; demand is not fate but choice; and demand is extremely flexible and fast.