Choice debate

After reading the September issue, I was struck by the impression that “Customer choice” would resolve distribution reliability issues (“Outages prompt lawsuits …”, page 1, and “When choice honeymoon ends, service quality sparks long-term customer relationship,” page 31). Customer choice does not change the physical facilities. In other words, the wires and substations delivering energy to end-use customers will not change as a result of customer choice.

The likelihood that funding will be increased to correct the bad maintenance of a distribution system-e.g. rate increase for distribution services-is unlikely in light of the underlying push to reduce rates as a result of customer choice. Therefore, customer choice does not necessarily change the physical operations and reliability of a distribution system. It does impact whether end-use customers will have retail relationships with a home utility, but not to whom they are physically attached.

Another way of thinking about this is that the customer who does not like the local cable company can get a satellite dish and totally disassociate with the cable company. An electric customer does not currently have the option to disconnect from the distribution company (separate from the retail company).

Richard Dillon

Manager

Entergy, Inc.

Cabot, Ark.

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