Power Play: The Fight to Control the World's Electricity

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New Press, 2003 - Business & Economics - 400 pages
The story behind the debacle of today's power outages and soaring electricity costs. As electrification spread across America in the early twentieth century, private corporations moved quickly to reap unprecedented profits from millions of new paying customers. Blocking their path was the widespread view that electricity was a basic need and that its production should be regulatedif not owned outrightby the public. The electricity companies fought back, buying up newspapers, radio stations, and politicians, and flooding the schools with free, pro-industry schoolbooks. Their actions heralded the advent of corporate public relations, and form a major chapter in the history of the industry. In an eye-opening investigation, Sharon Beder's Power Play reveals the decades-long struggle to wrest control of electricity from public hands. Her analysis ranges from the machinations of American political power to grassroots struggles in South Asia aimed at stemming the environmental degradation caused by multinational energy providers. In so doing, she sets the stage for understanding the damage done by deregulation, the roots of the Enron scandal, and the contemporary debacle of electricity supply.

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This book is key to having a better understanding of the long term trends or perhaps you could say "plans" that this industry has for taking control of it's industry from all forms of public ownership. It indicates quite well how several large corporations, many based along with the Oil and Gas industry in Houston, Texas has been using the help of the federal government to eliminate the remaining vestiges of national ownership of the electrical grid in places such as Brazil, India and Indonesia. A good succinct analysis of the California Energy Crisis that Enron helped to create and how large utilities there extorted the California government to pay large sums of money that has driven that state into serious debt and downsized the overall services it is able to provide. A penetrating view into how banks like Macquarie (Australia) benefit from consulting fees and setting up IPO's in driving the market manipulation that national electrical deregulation offers. It is a good update to Lee Metcalf's "Overcharge" which eventually led to the industry's support of his opponent, removing him as U.S. Senator from the state of Montana. It gives a well needed overview to the background of why many industrialists seek to use the serious fiscal problems of the federal government to strip away it's most valuable assets (hydropower dams) into private hands to the detriment of the people who are now served most from them today.
Chris Stearns Thurston Public Utility Commissioner
 

About the author (2003)

Sharon Beder is the author of numerous books, including Global Spin, Selling the Work Ethic, and The Nature of Sustainable Development. She is currently associate professor at the University of Wollongong, Australia.

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