The recalcitrance of Delmarva Power brings up an interesting conclusion. We need a counterbalancing force to maintain balance when one entity leans too far in the wrong direction.

What is a State Power Authority? (No, it’s not a Sen. Adams) New York state has had an active and successful power authority for many years. Proposals are being actively debated in state legislatures in Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, and Rhode Island.

New York State provides a great example. That state’s Power Authority, was created to build the massive Niagara Falls (Mike, got pictures?) Power station which, would provide cheap, efficient, hydroelectric power for the entire western half of the state.

Like Delaware, it was the initial investment in the infrastructure that provide the major portion of the cost. Like wind, water going over the falls, is free. The state took over its portion of the risk for the right to control prices for its constituents.

With cheap power, came great jobs, as anyone who has driven across Western New York can attest, just from reading the logos of major company headquarters along the route. From Albany to Buffalo, all along the old Erie Canal route, good jobs are available because many companies decided to take advantage of reliable, cheap power.

Other famous power authorities include the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Bonneville Power Authority. Again many jobs followed cheap power into these previously economic barren areas….

Delaware could benefit from its own Power Authority. Here is how it could work.

A. Delaware’s General Assembly responds to the fact that Delmarva will not comply, and establishes the Delaware Power Authority.

B. The Delaware Power Authority, or DPA, could issue bonds backed by the “full faith and credit of the state.” Currently it would have little difficulty raising the funds necessary to assist in the building of a 600 MW wind-farm off the coast of Sussex County.

C. The State Power Authority could then sell directly to customers, along the lines of the municipal power authorities today, or it could sell at cost to Delmarva Power (or a corporate rival for those who like “market economics”), thereby driving DOWN the price of electrical energy for the benefit of all who choose to reside within this state’s boundaries. The lowest bid would be chosen.

D. The DPA (Delaware Power Authority) could step in and fill reliability needs that could not met by reasonable proposals being dictated by marketing conditions. The New York Power Authority in 2001 built 10 power generators around New York City, which are credited with staving off a major blackout in 2001. The NYPA was able to act quickly because of its emergency siting powers, far faster than a corporate entity could.

E. Using its state authority status, the DPA could empower the state Attorney General to arrest and charge any future Stockbridge-ian type of delay caused by petty intransigence.

Conclusion: A state base power authority can offer its citizens, a cost-based alternative to a single service utility which absence of strong regulation, has strong internal incentives to raise its prices.

Real life American examples:

The federal Tennessee Valley Authority was founded to fund the initial creation and testing of nuclear power

The federal Bonneville Power Administration was founded to fund the series of giant dams up and down the Columbia River.

The state run New York Power Authority was founded to fund the development of the massive Niagra Falls power station.

The Delaware Power Authority should soon be founded to fund the building of America’s first offshore wind farm just east off our southern coast.

Doing so would provide us all with cheap power and a solid economic future.

The Delaware Power Authority: It is a great idea that just needs to happen.