Thirty years ago, Potomac Electric Power Company ("PEPCO") sold electric power generated by coal-burning power plants located in the Washington region. Today, PEPCO can sell electric power generated by coal-burning and nuclear power plants located in West Virginia, Pennsylvania,and Illinois. By importing electric power from those states, PEPCO can, in effect, export to those states the environmental impact of coal-burning and nuclear power plants that generate power for affluent PEPCO consumers in the District of Columbia and Maryland.This "outsourcing" of electric power generation was made possible by seismic changes in the structure of the electric utility industry wrought by Congress and by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") in the last three decades. The purpose of those changes was to replace regulation with competition in wholesale markets for electric power.
James W. Moeller,
Public Utilities and Environmental Justice: Electric Restructuring and Deregulation and Low-Income Communities,
U.D.C. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.udc.edu/udclr/vol21/iss1/3