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Overcoming Obstacles To A National Electricity Grid

Monday September 2010

A broad consensus has emerged that the United States needs a truly national electricity transmission grid, both to increase reliability and to transport power from our prairies to our big cities. But how will we finance an upgraded grid? And how will we overcome obstacles posed by a decentralized system of utility regulation? In this, the second major Manhattan Institute conference in Washington on a national transmission grid, we present two new papers examining both financing and regulatory issues key to moving ahead. Gilbert E. Metcalf, professor of economics at Tufts University and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, determines whether private investors or the government should finance the construction of the grid. Drew Thornley, author of Energy & the Environment: Myths & Facts, explores regulatory barriers standing in the way of an interstate grid, including the authority of state public utility commissions to set transmission rates and approve facility siting. Discussing the authors’ findings will be a panel of experts, including Ashley Brown and Suedeen Kelly. Susan Eisenhower, president of The Eisenhower Group, Inc., will deliver the keynote address explaining why building the grid is as important to our prosperity today as building the interstate highway system was fifty years ago.

Speakers: Peter Huber, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute; Gilbert Metcalf, Professor of Economics, Tufts University; Drew Thornley Author, Energy & the Enviornment: Myths & Facts; Ashley Brown, Executive Director, Harvard Electricity Policy Group; Mark Robinson, Principal, JMR Energy Infra, Inc.;
Keynote: Susan Eisenhower, President, The Eisenhower Group, Inc.
Moderator: Howard Husock, Vice President, Policy Research, Manhattan Institute