The largest non-regulated generator of power in Texas, Luminant, and its parent company, Energy Future Holdings, are now blaming the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule for idling four huge coal-fired electric plants the very week an arctic cold front pushed energy consumption in the state to the limit. It is no surprise that Republican politicians like Rick Perry, and heir-to-the-throne, Greg Abbott, have jumped to Luminant’s defense. The full story, however, reveals a company cobbled together during the worst excess of the early 2000’s boom years like some sort of sulphur dioxide spouting Frankenstein that is now on the verge of total collapse. The story also shows the central problem with our deregulated energy sector: Regulated utilities’ primary goals are to provide reliable power to their customers. Deregulated utilities’ primary goals are to maximize profits for their investors. As the experience of the last ten years in Texas shows, these two goals are not necessarily the same, and Texas residents are paying the price.

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